Is Hunter Biden Teaching a ‘Fake News’ Class at Tulane?

Always read beyond the headline before deploying outrage.

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Hunter Biden
Image via Kris Connor / Getty Images

Claim

U.S. President Joe Biden's son Hunter is guest-teaching a class on "fake news" at Tulane University.

Rating

Context

Hunter Biden isn't teaching or guest-teaching a course about "fake news" at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will be one of several guest speakers for a class on media polarization. His virtual appearance "will be a one-time event that is a segment of one class," per a university spokesperson.

Origin

In late April 2021, various partisan websites and social media personalities shared misleading stories claiming that U.S. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden would be guest teaching a class at Tulane University.

“Hunter Biden To Teach Class On ‘Fake News’ At Tulane University,” the Federalist’s headline reported. “Report: Hunter Biden to Guest Teach Tulane University Class on ‘Fake News’ this Fall,” Breitbart’s headline reported.

As often happens, these inaccurate headlines prompted inaccurate social media posts from high-profile figures with large followings. Here is one example, from former U.S. President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.:
This round of internet outrage was all for naught, however. For clarity, all one need do is read past the headlines.

The British tabloid Daily Mail, which first reported the story on April 27, contains what it describes as a syllabus for the course, which shows the course will be taught by Mitchell Sellers, a visiting associate professor of political science at Tulane, and Andrew Schwartz, chief communications officer for the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Biden is scheduled to be one of several guest speakers (not teachers) during the fall semester class at Tulane, a private university in New Orleans, Louisiana. Other speakers displayed on the alleged syllabus reported by the Daily Mail include Dr. Deborah Birx, COVID-19 response coordinator under the Trump administration, Juan Williams, a Fox News analyst, Michael Fauntroy, an associate professor of political science at Howard University, Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan, and a number of other journalists for mainstream news outlets.

Tulane spokesperson Michael Strecker told Snopes in an email that Biden’s role in the class will be small, and the class is on media polarization, not “fake news.”

The referenced, online course, titled “Media Polarization and Public Policy Impacts,” is new for fall 2021 and will be co-taught by Andrew Schwartz, who is the Chief Communications Officer for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank. The course will include several high-profile guest speakers from across the political and policy spectrum. Hunter Biden will be participating as a guest speaker – not a guest teacher or lecturer. He will give his thoughts on the impact media has on policy making and on how policy makers do their jobs.

Biden’s “virtual appearance will be a one-time event that is a segment of one class,” Strecker added.

Hunter Biden was a prime target for several smear campaigns during the 2020 presidential election cycle. He disclosed in December 2020 that federal investigators were looking into his tax affairs.