Leader Of Papua New Guinea Takes Offense To Biden’s Cannibal Story

Left: (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images) Right: (Photo by HILARY WARDHAUGH/AFP via Getty Images)

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape reacted to President Joe Biden’s claim that his uncle was eaten by “cannibals” on the island in World War II, in a statement to The Associated Press.

While visiting a Pennsylvania war memorial, Biden remembered his uncle, Second Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., who the president said was shot down during WWII over New Guinea and never found because “there were a lot of cannibals” on the island. The claim does not match the official U.S. military account of Finnegan’s death, as the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency writes that the plane was abandon into the ocean for unknown reasons. Marape took offense to Biden’s tale in a Monday statement to the AP.

“President Biden’s remarks may have been a slip of the tongue; however, my country does not deserve to be labeled as such,” Marape told the outlet, adding that Biden appeared to imply that his uncle was “eaten by cannibals.”

“World War II was not the doing of my people; however, they were needlessly dragged into a conflict that was not their doing,” the prime minister continued.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape reacts as he speaks during an interview in Sydney on December 11, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape reacts as he speaks during an interview in Sydney on December 11, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House defended Biden comments during a Friday press briefing, saying that the president is very proud of his uncle.

“Why is President Biden saying [Finnegan] was shot down, there is no evidence of that, and why is he saying that his uncle was eaten by cannibals?” Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked. “That is a bad way to go.”

“He lost his life. Look, we should not make jokes about this,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded.

“It’s not. President Biden said his uncle was eaten by cannibals,” Doocy shot back.

“Your last line, it’s for a laugh. It’s for a funny statement. And he takes this very seriously. His uncle who served and protected this country lost his life serving, and that should matter,” Jean-Pierre followed up.

Biden previously took a shot at former President Donald Trump in 2018 after his now-predecessor called Haiti and African countries “shithole countries” while attending a meeting with lawmakers, The Hill reported.

“It’s not how a president should speak. It’s not how a president should behave. Most of all, it’s not what a president should believe,” Biden tweeted in response. “We’re better than this.”