On June 27th, President Donald Trump tweeted out a video:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020
Whew, the soundtrack alone raised my blood pressure. Plus, I didn’t realize that so many Democratic leaders supported violence in the streets! Except, of course, they don’t: as the Washington Post’s Fact Checker team examined in detail, several quotes in the video are heavily and deceptively edited. Brazenly, this piece of propaganda uses Nancy Pelosi’s words from two years ago, when she talked about the public response to Trump’s policy of separating immigrant families at the border (also known as “putting children in cages”), and makes it seem as though she’s riffing on the George Floyd protests.
The piece also twists the context of a Joe Biden clip from earlier in the year, when he had discussed the kinds of changes in our social system whose need the coronavirus had made clear. And, it mangles Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s thoughtful words about the meaning of “radical” into support for burning and looting.
Many of us have pointed out the danger presented by “really fake” videos, particularly AI-driven ones that can put words in a leader or candidate’s mouth that he or she never said. But deceptively manipulated video has been with us for much longer, and as this tweet shows, it can reach an audience of millions.
Trump superfans surely believe every word, but what about someone who’s not really paying attention to politics? Unless they actively question what they see, he or she is all too likely to encounter this video shared or retweeted and come away with the impression that the Democrats are a threat to our fellow citizens.