Viral Clip Of Biden Talking About Crack Leaves Out Key Context

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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A viral clip of former Vice President Joe Biden comparing crack and cocaine during a May 2019 speech left out key context and falsely suggested Biden used race to justify a disparity in sentencing.

The clip, posted by Twitter user @nasescobar316 on May 24, suggests Biden said that “someone (black) doing crack was fundamentally different than someone (white) sniffing cocaine” in a different neighborhood.

The tweet misrepresented Biden and left out important context that actually shows Biden was condemning parts of a 1994 crime bill that he helped pass.


The bill Biden helped develop has been blamed for increasing the number of black men jailed and for creating a disparity in sentencing for crack and cocaine, The Washington Post reported. The full context shows Biden explaining that some people claimed the drugs were “fundamentally different,” not that he believed they were.

Biden also admitted that there was fault in his bill during the speech in New Hampshire, adding that he has been trying to change portions of it. This portion was not included in the Twitter clip. (RELATED: Biden Leaves New Hampshire As Campaign Struggles Continue)

“The big mistake in the crime bill on drugs was one that [former Democratic New York Sen.] Pat Moynihan, and he’s a great guy, you remember the crack epidemic came from the Bahamas,” Biden said according to a live Facebook stream from ABC News showing his speech. “And we were told by medical doctors at the time that because it permeated the membrane of the brain more quickly, it was the crack you never come back. It was somehow fundamentally different than someone in a beautiful neighborhood like this sniffing a line of cocaine would get not automatic sentence for.”

“I’ve been trying to change that since it passed. Every single year as senator, as well as as vice president to the president. And as vice president to the President of the United States with Barack Obama, we let – nobody should be in jail in my view. Nobody should be in jail for a crime that’s not a crime of violence.”

The twitter user suggested Biden was claiming that a black person doing crack was different than a white person doing cocaine. Biden’s full comments indicate he was not saying this, as the full clip shows.

Biden has spoken about this part of his crime bill during other speeches, including during a January 2019 speech quoted by WaPo.

“We were told by the experts . . . that [crack] was somehow fundamentally different. It is not different. But it has trapped an entire generation,” Biden said during the January 2019 speech.