A reporter raises their hand for questions as Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 4, 2023 as former US President Donald Trump is arraigned in New York. ( AFP / Jim WATSON)

No proof for claim Karine Jean-Pierre drove while intoxicated

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A narrative shared across blogs and social media alleges that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was involved in a drunk-driving accident that has since been covered up. This is unproven; police in Washington confirmed they have received no report of any such incident, pictures used to illustrate the online claim are entirely unrelated, and the White House told AFP the story is false.

“White House silent following drunk driving accident,” says the headline on an April 3, 2023 article from “Canyon News,” a blog site that appears to focus on the US state of California.

The article claims that on March 26, US President Joe Biden’s press secretary “rear-ended another vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.” It further claims that Jean-Pierre was seen “slurring her speech and having difficulty standing up straight,” but that the police in Washington did not arrest her or release body-camera footage.

Screenshot from canyon-news.com taken April 4, 2023

Similar allegations spread in posts on other websites and platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. On TikTok, several videos racked up tens or hundreds of thousands of views.

The posts spread as US media attention homed in on the indictment and April 4 arraignment of former president Donald Trump, with many posts arguing that Jean-Pierre was skirting the law.

"Apparently the term 'Nobody's Above the Law' doesn't apply to the Biden White House Press Secretary," one April 3 tweet says.

But the story is fiction, the White House said.

“It’s fabricated,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in an April 4 email to AFP.

Alaina Gertz, a public affairs specialist for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, added in an email: “MPD does not have any reports for this occurring.”

AFP found no news coverage corroborating the claims of the alleged crash involving Jean-Pierre.

The Canyon News article credited the story to a March 27 Facebook post from a user who in turn cited an anonymous Twitter account called “iSource News." The account posted a thread purporting to break the news of the wreck on March 26 -- the earliest iteration of the claim AFP found.

"KARINE JEAN-PIERRE INVOLVED IN REAR-ENDER," the account wrote in the first of seven tweets.

Screenshot from Twitter taken April 4, 2023

The account cited unnamed sources and offered no evidence to back the claims. A photo used in the thread was unrelated, a reverse image search revealed.

The picture, which shows a police cruiser, was taken from body-camera footage of a September 2022 accident in which a freight train in the state of Colorado crashed into a police vehicle parked on its tracks, injuring a woman handcuffed inside. The same image appeared in several news reports from the time.

Another photo shared in separate posts, which was described by the Canyon News as a shot of “DC police at the scene of (the) drunk driving accident,” was taken from footage of the January killing by police in Tennessee of Tyre Nichols.

AFP debunked other misinformation about Jean-Pierre here.