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Fact Check: NPR Supposedly Watched Biden SOTU Speech with Undecided Voter Who 'Wasn't that Impressed.' Here are the Facts

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Claim:

NPR published an article with the headline, "We watched the State of the Union with one undecided voter. She wasn't that impressed."

Rating:

Rating: True
Rating: True

Context:

A screenshot of this headline was published by a popular user on X whose bio says the account posts parody content. The post earned thousands of likes. However, the NPR article was real, despite the humorous focus of the X account.

 

On March 8, 2024, a user on X with the display name of New York Times Pitchbot and the handle of @DougJBalloon published a purported screenshot of an NPR article headline that read, "We watched the State of the Union with one undecided voter. She wasn't that impressed." The post showed only an image of the supposed headline.

The bio for the New York Times Pitchbot user's account mentions that it focuses on parody content. However, that's not the full story of this rumor.

Columbia Journalism Review previously profiled the anonymous user behind the account, whose alias is Doug J. The story described the user as "a Twitter account whose posts satirize New York Times' headlines and articles." In other words, the user's account is not affiliated with The New York Times. It's also not a bot.

The truth was that this post from the parody account displayed a genuine news item. NPR did, in fact, publish on its website an article with the headline, "We watched the State of the Union with one undecided voter. She wasn't that impressed." The story was reported on March 8, the day after U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. An audio version of the story also reportedly aired on an NPR radio broadcast.

The article focused on the thoughts of Karen Seagraves, who was described in the story as a 52-year-old independent voter living in North Carolina and a nurse by training who now works as a consultant for hospitals and tech companies.

Users responding to the New York Times Pitchbot's post on X appeared to mostly have negative criticism to share regarding the NPR headline. Others were unsure if the screenshot of the headline was even real.

"oMg this isn't parody!," one user posted.

"Is this you Doug, or real??!," another person wrote, referencing the user's alias of Doug J.

"Parody becomes reality," noted another user.

Users also shared comments that responded to the article in a thread on Reddit's r/politics subreddit and under a post on the official NPR Facebook page.

In sum, it was true that NPR published an article with the headline about an undecided voter being unimpressed with Biden's speech. It was then shared by a parody account on X, where it earned thousands of likes and appeared to confuse at least some users who were unsure of whether it was a real news story.

Sources:

"Karen Seagraves Is the Kind of Independent Voter President Biden's Campaign Hopes to Win over This Election Year. Here's How She Saw Last Night's State of the Union Address." Facebook, NPR, 8 Mar. 2024, https://www.facebook.com/NPR/posts/pfbid0yX9m5PB8euHfst8edz7vqAJQh6n3E2HSC2gMHhyXL4APpC37FCEWji2qd3rwQcoXl.

Keith, Tamara. "We Watched the State of the Union with One Undecided Voter. She Wasn't That Impressed." NPR, 8 Mar. 2024. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2024/03/08/1235457301/state-of-the-union-biden-reaction.

Pershan, Caleb. "The Bot That Saw the Times." Columbia Journalism Review, 23 May 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_profile/nyt-pitchbot.php.

u/nosotros_road_sodium. "We Watched the State of the Union with One Undecided Voter. She Wasn't That Impressed." r/Politics via Reddit.com, 8 Mar. 2024, https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/1b9ozxu/we_watched_the_state_of_the_union_with_one/.