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Fact check: Democratic activists falsely claim Marjorie Taylor Greene refused to applaud Zelensky

The claim, which has been shared thousands of times, was based on a brief video clip that was taken from C-SPAN footage of the Zelensky event and then posted on Twitter by a liberal political action committee called MeidasTouch. The C-SPAN clip showed other members of Congress applauding Zelensky’s appearance on a big screen while Greene bent down to pick up her phone and then looked at the phone.

MeidasTouch tweeted the clip and added this caption: “As Zelenskyy is greeted by the US Congress to a standing ovation, Marjorie Taylor Greene refuses to applaud and instead appears to grab her cell phone.”

The problem: Greene was shown in the C-SPAN footage for only about four seconds. Like so many other brief video clips on social media, this one didn’t tell the full story.

Facts First: Greene did not refuse to applaud Zelensky. Full footage of the event shows that Greene stood and applauded on four occasions before and after Zelensky’s speech: briefly when Zelensky appeared on the big screen, then longer for Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, then again for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invocation of a pro-Ukraine slogan and then — for more than 15 seconds — after Zelensky finished the address.

Greene opposes sending US money and arms to Ukraine, arguing that Russia is certain to win the war, and her applause at the Zelensky event was less vigorous than the applause from many other members of Congress. Each of the four times she stood and clapped, she was slower to rise than lots of her colleagues. But the viral claim is that she refused to applaud Zelensky at all. That isn’t true.

Greene applauded

You can watch the video below to see the four instances of Greene applauding.

Greene first clapped for about three seconds after Zelensky appeared on-screen. She stopped clapping about six seconds before the viral C-SPAN footage started showing her.

Greene then reached for her phone, as others continued to clap, but the viral video also didn’t show what she did next. After looking down at the phone for a moment, she held it up toward Zelensky’s image and then turned it in the direction of the clapping members standing behind her — appearing to be filming or taking photos of the scene, as other members did later.

Greene applauded again after Pelosi hailed the presence of the Ukrainian ambassador. Greene applauded yet again after Pelosi introduced Zelensky and said, “Slava Ukraini,” which means “glory to Ukraine.”

Finally, after Zelensky concluded, Greene applauded for more than 15 seconds.

The false claim that she refused to applaud was repeated in a headline in The Daily Mail, a British tabloid. And Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who has criticized Greene and other far-right members of the party caucus, was among the Twitter users who amplified the MeidasTouch tweet.

MeidasTouch doubles down

MeidasTouch, which was founded in 2020 by three brothers, has more than 762,000 Twitter followers. Its videos, many of them sharply critical of Republicans, have repeatedly gone viral. Its motto is “because truth is golden.”
After this reporter tweeted on Thursday to debunk the false claim that Greene had refused to applaud Zelensky, MeidasTouch forcefully defended the claim. It claimed in additional tweets that “what she did was not an applause” — suggesting she had merely done a brief “smush” of her hands — and called this fact check “clownish.”
MeidasTouch also posted a dictionary definition of “applause” — “approval or praise expressed by clapping” — and argued that Greene’s own clapping did not express “approval or praise” and thus didn’t qualify.
On Wednesday, Greene tweeted that the viral MeidasTouch tweet about her supposed refusal to applaud Zelensky was “misinformation.” In an email to CNN, Greene spokesperson Nick Dyer called MeidasTouch a “a bad actor spreading disinformation and propaganda.”
Given that accusation, it’s worth noting that Greene has herself been serially inaccurate about a variety of subjects. Her personal Twitter account was banned in January because she had repeatedly used it to spread misinformation about Covid-19.

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