Twitter tags Rep. Scalise tweet as manipulated media

Activist Ady Barkan tells Scalise, “You owe the entire disability community an apology."

Twitter flagged a manipulated clip posted by Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) that modifies a question activist Ady Barkan asked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The tweet has since been deleted from Scalise’s Twitter feed.

The tweet in question spliced quotes together from Barkan, who speaks using computer voice assistance, making it sound as if Biden had expressed support to defund police departments.

In the original interaction, Barkan said to Biden, “We can reduce the responsibilities assigned to police and redirect some of the funding into social services, mental health counseling, and affordable housing.” Barkan followed that up by asking Biden, “Are you open to that kind of reform?” 

Democratic presidential nominee replied by stating he suggested that type of reform before and clarified that isn’t the same as defunding the police. 

Barkan, looking for a more direct answer, asked, “But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” Biden responded with, “Yes, absolutely.” 

Scalise’s video shortened Barkan’s question and spliced words between “funding” and Biden’s “absolutely.” In Scalise’s video, Barkan asks, “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding for police?” Biden responds with a definitive “Yes, absolutely,” which may lead some to believe Biden supports defunding the police. 

Barkan responded to Scalise’s post, tweeting, "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."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also criticized the video and urged Scalise to “take his doctored video down and apologize immediately.”

Scalise spokeswoman Lauren Fine told The Washington Post the video had been “condensed… to the essence of what he was asking, as is common practice for clips run on TV and social media, no matter the speaker.” Scalise reiterated this stance on Monday.

“Look, it shouldn’t have been edited,” Scalise told Fox News

“But at the same time, the comments were always about — in fact, twice in that interview, he asked Joe Biden if he was for redirecting money away from police. And in both times, Joe Biden said yes,” Scalise added.

Biden spokesman Andrew Bates called the Scalise video a “deep fake” in a statement on Sunday. Bates added, “To doctor the words of an extraordinarily courageous and selfless American with a disability who speaks with the assistance of eye gaze technology, and who shows more strength, resolve, and care for others in every millisecond than Donald Trump has in his entire life is both morally abhorrent and a sign of utter panic.”

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