Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has ventured out of his basement to hit the campaign trail, but that does not mean his rivals have let up on their criticism.
In one appearance this week, he made the assertion that a Black man invented the incandescent light bulb — a statement some media critics and pundits have labeled misleading, as reported by the New York Post.
“Not a white guy named Edison”
The former vice president broadly addressed the issue of racial inequalities during a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the wake of protests over the police shooting of a Black man in that city last month.
“Why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes?” he asked at one point during his remarks at a local church. “A Black man invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Edison. OK? There’s so much. Did anybody know?”
Breitbart News tweeted a video clip of the moment along with its assertion that Biden had been spreading “a false meme.”
Inventor Lewis Howard Latimer was one of Thomas Edison’s top researchers during the process of designing the light bulb. The Black man received a patent for a more durable filament used in the design Edison has been credited for inventing.
Latimer, who also assisted Alexander Graham Bell in designing some of his inventions, built on his own experience to start “improving upon his boss’s invention” while part of the Edison light bulb project, according to Grist.
“He was not the original inventor”
Nevertheless, plenty of pundits and reporters called Biden out for what they deemed an exaggeration of Latimer’s role.
Tyler Olson addressed the line in a piece for Fox News, heralding Latimer’s achievements as “a child of former slaves, a Union Navy veteran, a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and eventually the only Black member of the research team known as ‘Edison’s Pioneers,'” among other things.
“But he was not the original inventor of the light bulb,” Olson wrote.
Last month, Biden made headlines by vowing to act as “a fact-checker on the floor” during his upcoming debate with Trump.
In reality, a debate filled with claims like this one could keep a fact-checker busy all night.