On Sunday night, August 30, White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Scavino tweeted a video appearing to show Joe Biden falling asleep during a local TV news interview while the anchors giggled and cut the interview short.
However, the video was faked, and later flagged by Twitter as manipulated media, while hundreds of users called on Scavino to remove it. An employee of the TV station whose video was used also informed the public of who the interview subject was in the actual footage: legendary performer and activist Harry Belafonte.
As of Monday afternoon, Scavino had not removed the video.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Altered Video Appears to Show Biden Sleeping & Snoring While an Anchor Giggles & Says He’s ‘Having a Little Nap’
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) August 30, 2020
Scavino on Sunday night tweeted the altered video, which appeared to show a CBS Sacramento reporter interviewing Biden on the state of the presidential election.
“Joining us live this morning from New York,” the anchor begins, before being interrupted by the sound of loud snoring and an image of Biden with his eyes closed.
“Wake up,” the anchor says, as her co-anchor, off-screen giggles. “Wake up. This is your wake-up call!”
The anchor then cuts the segment short, telling viewers, while suppressing laughter, “I’ll tell you what, we’re going to … He’s meditating. He’s taking a little nap.”
The altered video even featured a chyron, inserted by whoever edited the video, reading, “On air: Joe Biden, the importance of this election.”
CBS Sacramento Anchor John Dabkovich Later Tweeted, ‘This is Fake,’ Informing People That He Was There At the Time & the Station Was Interviewing Harry Belafonte
This is fake. You know how I know? I was the coanchor in studio.
We were interviewing Harry Belafonte. https://t.co/gPRU9JGyI7
— John Dabkovich (@JohnDabkovich) August 31, 2020
John Dabkovich, a CBS Sacramento anchor, later tweeted that he was on set at the time of the actual interview the Trump campaign had used footage from to mock Biden. And they were interviewing Harry Belafonte.
“This is fake,” Dabkovich said. “You know how I know? I was the co-anchor in studio. We were interviewing Harry Belafonte.”
The news anchor also shared footage via YouTube of the original, actual, interview with Belafonte. From the footage, it appears that someone added the snoring sound effects as well.
Sometime on Monday, Twitter personnel flagged Scavino’s tweet as “manipulated media,” but that didn’t stop several apparent Trump supporters from claiming it was real or, “the camera never lies.”
Twitter’s policies on manipulative or deceptive media can be read here.
Republican Senator Steve Scalise on Sunday Also Tweeted a Manipulated Video Featuring Activist Ady Barkan Asking Biden About Defunding the Police
And Scavino wasn’t the high-profile Republican to share doctored video over the weekend in an attempt to attack Biden. Senator Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, tweeted a video on Sunday that purported to show Biden agreeing with the movement to defund the police.
In a now-deleted tweet, Scalise uploaded a video of Biden being interviewed by activist Ady Barkan, who has ALS and speaks with computer assistance. Scalise or his staff, however, added the words “for police” to the end of a question Barkan was asking Biden about redirecting funds toward mental health services, CNN reported.
The edited video still used Barkan’s voice, and the activist was vocally displeased, once he saw it, asking Scalise to take the video down and to apologize.
These are not my words.
I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts.
You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain.
Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology. https://t.co/N6G5RgMXlO
— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) August 30, 2020
“These are not my words,” Barkan told Scalise. “I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts. You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain. Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology.”
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also demanded that Scalise remove the video and accused the senator of “trying to steal Ady’s words by lying.”
Now, he’s trying to steal Ady’s words by lying.
Congressman Scalise must take his doctored video down and apologize immediately. https://t.co/sWlufPsazf
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 30, 2020
On Sunday night, Scalise agreed to remove Barkan’s portion of the video. However, he did not apologize for putting words in his mouth, rather insisting that his edited video showed Biden’s true feelings on the defund the police movement.
While Joe Biden clearly said “yes,” twice, to the question of his support to redirect money away from police, we will honor the request of @AdyBarkan and remove the portion of his interview from our video.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) August 31, 2020
Heavy reached out to Scavino at the White House for comment on the video, as well as the Biden campaign, but did not immediately hear back.