WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign accused Twitter of bias and double standards after the company labeled an edited video clip of former Vice President Joe Biden as “manipulated media.”
In a letter addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as company executives Viaja Gadde and Carlos Monje, Trump campaign Chief Operating Officer Michael Glassner requested that Twitter also apply the label to a campaign ad shared by the Biden campaign earlier this month.
“In order for American elections to remain free and fair, it is critical that the Biden campaign be held to the same standard it is demanding apply to others,” Glassner said.
On Saturday, White House Media Director Dan Scavino shared a 13-second video clip of Biden in which he fumbles for his words during a campaign rally in Kansas City earlier that day while denouncing negative campaigning in the Democratic primary race.
“Turn this primary from a campaign that’s about negative attacks into one about what we’re for, because we cannot reelect, we cannot win this reelection. Excuse me, we can only reelect Donald Trump,” he says before the clip cuts him off mid-sentence.
In the full clip, Biden says, “We can only reelect Donald Trump if, in fact, we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s got to be a positive campaign, so join us.”
Trump retweeted Scavino’s post and he later retweeted a post by Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk that also featured the video clip.
Biden’s campaign slammed the video clip as “misinformation.” Spokesman Andrew Bates told The Associated Press, “It’s revealing that Donald Trump and his campaign keep admitting, through their reliance on desperate smears, that they can’t beat Joe Biden with the truth.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said the video had been “egregiously spliced” and warned, “the consequences are serious.”
Twitter determined the clip was “edited in a misleading way” and it became the first video to receive a “manipulated media” label under the social media firm’s new “synthetic and manipulated media policy,” which took effect on March 5.
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who was one of Biden’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, applauded Twitter’s move to label the video.
“People need to know whether what they’re seeing on the internet is real or designed to deceive,” Bennet said in a tweet. “I urge others to follow their lead.”
But Trump’s campaign blasted Twitter for the decision.
“The video wasn’t manipulated. Biden actually said those things. Embarrassing, but he did. That’s why it’s called a gaffe. The only people trying to make a ‘debate’ over this is the fake news media. Sad!” tweeted Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis.
“Twitter shouldn’t be an enforcement arm of Joe Biden’s campaign strategy to block voters from seeing his embarrassing viral moments,” Andrew Clark, rapid response director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. “But if they choose to police every video clip they must hold his own campaign to the same standard.”
Clark and Glassner pointed to a video the Biden campaign shared on March 3, two days before Twitter’s new policy was implemented.
“We can’t sit by and lose this country to Donald Trump,” read the tweet, which contained a Super Tuesday ad. The video includes about 15 seconds of short clips taken from past Trump remarks, which Glassner says were “presented deceptively and out of context.”
In his letter to Twitter, Glassner cites three clips from the Biden campaign ad that he says are used to “mislead Americans.”
The first appears to show Trump calling the coronavirus his opponents’ “new hoax” at a campaign rally. The president later clarified he was referring to the criticism he has faced over his response to the outbreak, not the virus itself.
A second clip showed white nationalists marching in Charlottesville, followed by Trump saying, “very fine people.” Glassner points out that Trump clarified at the time that he was “not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists.” But critics said his comments conveyed a moral equivalence between the two sides after the marchers’ confrontation with counter-protesters left one woman dead.
The third clip cited by Glassner shows Trump declaring, “The American Dream is dead,” during his June 2015 announcement that he was running for president. In his full remarks, after a long pause, Trump adds, “But I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again.”
“Of course, this is not the first time the Biden campaign has used editing tricks to manipulate video and feed misinformation to the American people,” Glassner said. “If Twitter is not seeking to protect Joe Biden, we urge it to correct its apparent oversight and apply its standards equally across the board.”
Facebook did not initially take any action regarding the edited video of Biden’s Kansas City remarks. Though that company has adopted its own policy aimed at addressing manipulated media, it does not include “video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words.”
In response, Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz accused Facebook of shirking its responsibility to stop the spread of “increasingly rampant disinformation.”
“Facebook’s malfeasance when it comes to trafficking in blatantly false information is a national crisis in this respect,” Schultz said in a statement.
But after a fact-check, Facebook labeled the video “partly false.” A company spokeswoman told CNN that Facebook would also reduce the video’s distribution and show “warning labels with more context for people who see it, try to share it, or already have.”
Glassner said Biden’s campaign was trying to bully companies into burying the former vice president’s gaffes.
“Understandably, the Biden campaign has a strategic interest in intimidating social media companies into suppressing true and embarrassing video evidence of Joe Biden’s continued inability to communicate coherently – a sad truth that has been publicly noted by Democrats and media figures alike,” Glassner said.
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