Does a Viral Photo Show Emmanuel Macron Scolding Joe Biden at NATO Summit?

Images appearing to show French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden in a heated exchange at the NATO Summit started circulating on social media.

  • Updated

Earlier this week, world leaders from dozens of countries met in Brussels for the 31st yearly meeting of the 30-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, capping off a busy week of multilateral events that also included the G7 summit in Cornwall, England.

In the wake of the summit, photos emerged on social media appearing to show French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden in an intense conversation. Social media users started circulating the images suggesting Macron was scolding Biden:

Friends or Foes?

While we can confirm that the image of Biden and Macron is genuine, the claim that the POTUS was being "scolded" by the French leader is nothing more than pure speculation.

There have been multiple instances where similar images have been shared with misleading or fabricated context. In May 2017, an image of Pope Francis' "frowning" with former President Donald Trump and smiling with other world leaders, including Barack Obama, during their visits to the Vatican.

While the photos were real, they only showed a single moment from each head of state's meeting with the pope and did not accurately depict his mood during the meetings. Other images later showed the pope smiling with Trump and frowning with Obama.

A similar tactic was at play when the images from the NATO summit were used to create the misleading narrative that Macron was "scolding" Biden. The images, which are available on Getty Images, bear a caption that states that the two leaders were having a discussion before the start of the NATO summit:

"US President Joe Biden (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron (L) have a conversation ahead of the NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, on June 14, 2021."

While there is no video showing the exact moment the above photos were taken, there is some footage of Biden and Macron interacting before the summit. You can catch a glimpse of Biden and Macron speaking at the 3:08-minute mark of the following video.

Although you can't hear what they are saying to one another, it does not appear to be a heated conversation. Biden and Macron shared appeared to share a very friendly rapport in other images from the summit, including photos showing them laughing together and even walking their arms on each other's backs.

Macron Praises Biden at G-7 Summit

Moreover, during the G-7 Summit days before the NATO meeting in Brussels, Macron said that President Joe Biden has "definitely" convinced allies that the U.S. is back, and praised Biden as the two leaders sat side by side.

"I think it's great to have the U.S. president part of the club, and very willing to cooperate," Macron said at the summit in England. "What you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership." Watch the video below:

This article was first published on June 19, 2021