Mike is "running to rebuild America." With MAGA methods?
The Bloomberg campaign reordered short video fragments to create an appearance that, as Alex Ward reported, “[the former mayor] had a hugely successful moment on the debate stage, even though he didn’t.”
The 25-second clip starts with the mayor asking a question he really did pose in the debate: “I’m the only one here that I think has ever started a business — is that fair?” What follows is a series of close-ups on everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) keeping quiet, looking confused and uncomfortable, all backed by background noise of crickets chirping.
Ella Dawson replied to the disinfo content: “Mike Bloomberg is doing exactly what Elizabeth said he would: using his money to distort our memory of what happened last night.”
Though to be clear: unless the same video will be used as an ad for TV, or promoted with other paid modes of transmission, it’s possible that the loser from the debate will earn millions of views for free. (It is now 16 hours since the video has been posted, and it already has 3.2 million views.)
And to state the obvious: most eligible voters have not watched the debate. Most people will see either nothing, or short snippets.
Manipulating voters with edited videos
The controversy reminds me of a video from December. I was disappointed with the Biden campaign for producing an ad “The world is laughing at President Trump”. The video made it look like a crowd of diplomats was laughing at Trump; I called the editing dishonest.
Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) @JoeBidenThe world is laughing at President Trump. They see him for what he really is: dangerously incompetent and incapable of world leadership. We cannot give him four more years as commander in chief. https://t.co/IR8K2k54YQ
The Biden team said the world was laughing but they misled viewers with the sound in the clip and weren’t right on substance either.
The allies of the U.S. have not been laughing. Some have been anxious, some are disillusioned, a few are inspired. Virtually none are amused.
Online spaces remain largely unregulated
For future reference, let me add the non-fake version of the video from the Nevada debate.
Marc Caputo @MarcACaputoLook @ this clip of last night's debate where Bloomberg says "I'm the only one here who ever started a business. Is that fair?" There's a pause of 2 seconds. No 1 answers & Bloomberg says "Okay." But Bloomberg's campaign deceptively edited video to be more dramatic Tweet 1 of 3 https://t.co/rflUqQzI49
It’s possible that when we revisit this case in the future, we’ll be habituated (numb?). Maybe we’ll view the 2020 election cycle as a mild one.
But don’t rule out the possibility that fake content will actually have some kind of watermark one day, or perhaps we’ll soon have an equivalent of an ad blocker inside our phones and browsers.
A reliable filtering software doesn’t exist now, but I can imagine a situation where getting our machines to replay this MB video in the future may actually be difficult because protective software will be pervasive and most of will have forgotten how to switch it off...
(If so, here’s an irony alert in advance, given that the video features the “nanny mayor”.)