President Trump posted an edited video on social media showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly ripping up a paper copy of his State of the Union address as he honored a military hero and other guests. Pelosi’s office asked Twitter and Facebook over the weekend to take it down, but the companies refused to do so.
The video, entitled “Powerful American Stories Ripped to Shreds by Nancy Pelosi,” was made by Freedom Fights — part of the conservative activist group Turning Point USA — and shared by Mr. Trump on his Twitter account last week. The 5-minute clip juxtaposes shots of Mr. Trump praising a Tuskegee Airman, military families, mothers and children, with shots of Pelosi tearing apart the speech between each. The video has more than 11 million videos as of Monday afternoon.
In fact, at the address Tuesday night, Pelosi ripped up her copy only after Mr. Trump finished delivering it — not in response to any of those specific honorees. Afterwards, she said she did so because the president’s speech was “a manifesto of mistruth,” accusing him of repeating “falsehoods” about health care legislation, infrastructure and other policies.
After the edited video was posted, some Democratic lawmakers and Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, called out social media giants for allowing it to circulate. Hammill said the video was “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people.”
“The American people know that the President has no qualms about lying to them — but it is a shame to see Twitter and Facebook, sources of news for millions, do the same,” Hammill tweeted Friday, adding that “every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.”
A Facebook spokesperson, Andy Stone, fired back at Hammill. “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?” Stone tweeted. Hammill responded, “What planet are you living on? this is deceptively altered. take it down.”
A day later, Stone said the company declined to take it down because the “things featured in this video actually happened,” and pointed to Facebook’s policy on manipulated media.
Similarly, a Twitter spokesperson told CBS News partner CNET the video posted by the president didn’t go against any of Twitter’s current policies. Under new rules scheduled to take effect in March, manipulated media posted on Twitter by political leaders could get a warning label.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s presidential campaign, told CNET, “If Nancy Pelosi fears images of her ripping up the speech, perhaps she shouldn’t have ripped up the speech.” Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk echoed Murtaugh’s statement said “Pelosi is trying to shut this down.”
This is the second time Pelosi has had an issue with social media companies involving edited footage. Last May, a doctored video of Pelosi was posted online with the footage of her slowed down make her appear impaired.
U.S. intelligence officials have warned about the risk of altered videos misleading voters ahead of the 2020 elections.