RNC ‘cheap fake’ tries to paint a confused, lost Biden


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“What am I doing now?”

An allegedly confused President Biden on arriving in Israel, in a video tweeted by an account managed by the Republican National Committee, July 13

Cheap fakes,” or the practice of misrepresenting events that take place in a video by adding or leaving out context, aren’t new. Attacks calling Biden’s mental fitness into question aren’t either, yet the occurrence of both phenomena aren’t slowing down. We have documented several examples, such as here.

This latest instance, as shepherded through one of the Republican National Committee’s Twitter accounts, shows just how easy it is to pick apart a seemingly innocuous moment and imbue it with disingenuous meaning.

The stakes of Biden’s first Middle East trip as commander in chief are high. With stops slated for Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia, the visit is expected to test his deep foreign policy acumen.

The optics of these endeavors are just as important, beginning the moment a president walks off Air Force One. High-profile leader-to-leader diplomatic visits are especially detail-oriented, with an eye toward striking visuals for the cameras.

The seven-second video tweeted by @RNCResearch of Biden’s arrival doesn’t reflect the U.S. president ready to take on the diplomatic challenges of the present. Instead, it shows a seemingly confused Biden, unsure of his surroundings — looking his age of 79 years.

The longer source video of the arrival shows the complicated protocol ahead of a scheduled photo op with newly minted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. It shows the long receiving line and endless red carpet.

But in the grand tradition of “cheap fakes,” the snippet clipped and posted by @RNCResearch doesn’t try to alter or change the video itself. It makes its point by stripping the context of the original moment by simply adding text. And like a good “cheap fake,” it makes the viewer do the heavy lifting by letting you fill in the contextual blanks.

The use of this clip is an example of manipulated video — what we label “isolation” under our guide to manipulated video — because it’s intended to create a false narrative that doesn’t reflect the event as it occurred.

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