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Did Democrats Check Their Phones During Trump’s State of the Union Address?

A meme showing lawmakers checking their phones during the State of the Union is real — but this is not unprecedented, uncommon, or confined to one political party.

A few Democratic lawmakers were spotted checking their phones during President Trump’s State of the Union address.

An image purportedly showing Democratic lawmakers checking their phones during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address was posted by Breitbart’s White House correspondent Charlie Spiering on 30 January 2018 along with the claim that the image occurred during a portion of the speech about caring for veterans. This tweet was then turned into a meme and subsequently posted to Facebook.

This screenshot was truly taken during President Trump’s State of the Union address.

The claim that it occurred during a portion of the speech about caring for veterans is also mostly true. One could quibble with this assertion and argue that this image was actually broadcast after President Trump mentioned a variety of groups and topics (including Americans, senators, Supreme Court Justices, the 2nd Amendment, and veterans) and just before he mentioned a piece of legislation aimed at caring for veterans.

It’s also true that the pictured lawmakers were Democrats. ABC News labeled this section of the audience as “Democratic Members of Congress” in the caption of a photograph, and we believe we have identified the two women at the center of the photograph as Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam).

The image of these Democratic lawmakers using a phone during the State of the Union is real. This behavior, however, is not unprecedented. Cellphones are nearly ubiquitous and lawmakers may have used these devices to jot down notes, fact check portions of the speech, or monitor social media to see which portions of the speech were striking a chord with their constituents.

We also found a handful of other people using phones during President Trump’s speech.

Democrats certainly weren’t as enthused as their Republican counterparts during Trump’s first State of the Union, but the “disrespectful” act of using a cellphone appears to have occurred on both sides of the aisle.

Some Democratic lawmakers were spotted on their phones during another portion of the speech.

The use of a phone during the State of the Union address is not unprecedented or uncommon, but some may argue that this is a sign of disrespect, it is not a habit inherent to any specific political party.

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