Biden Ad Attacking Trump on Coronavirus Gets 'Four Pinocchios' From WaPo

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden / Getty Images
March 13, 2020

A Joe Biden ad received the worst possible rating from the Washington Post fact-checker for attacking President Donald Trump with manipulated video.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee received "Four Pinocchios" for an ad that deceptively edited video of a Trump campaign rally to make it appear that the president called the coronavirus a hoax. In the ad, Trump can be seen saying "coronavirus," followed immediately by "This is their new hoax."

But as the Post noted, the Biden campaign cut out more than 120 words in between those two statements. In his comments, Trump was calling the Democratic politicization of coronavirus a "hoax," not the virus itself:

Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They're politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, 'How's President Trump doing?' they go 'Oh, not good, not good.' They have no clue, they don't have any clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa, they can't even count. No, they can't. They can't count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, 'Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.' That didn't work out too well. They couldn't do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they've been doing it since he got in. It's all turning, they lost. It's all turning, think of it, think of it. And this is their new hoax.

"This is a clear example of deceptive editing," the fact checker said. "It edits out large portions of a video but still presents it as a complete narrative. This effectively skews reality and leaves the viewer to wonder what or who related to coronavirus is, in fact, a hoax?"

The Post also noted that Biden's ad depicts Trump saying "the American Dream," followed after a dramatic pause by "is dead." Trump's actual message during the 2016 election was that the American Dream was dead under the Obama administration, but could be revived under a Trump presidency. "The message is unarguably bleak, but by failing to include the second half of Trump's repeated line, [the ad] isolates the comment from the context of Trump's political argument," the Post said.

The ruling that the Biden Twitter ad "manipulates video" and used "video manipulation" comes a week after Twitter unveiled new rules against "manipulated media." Among the guidelines Twitter uses to determine whether it will label or remove manipulated media is that content "has been substantially edited in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing, or framing."

The first tweet Twitter marked as "manipulated" for violating these rules was a video posted by White House director of social media Dan Scavino that implied Biden had mistakenly endorsed Trump in a moment of confusion. According to Twitter, Biden's ad will not marked the same way because the tweet was sent before the policy took effect on March 5.