U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the third-most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, posted a video to Twitter on Sunday featuring commentary from politicians and activists. The minute-long collection of clips was meant to show how Scalise believes the Democrats are destroying America.
But the video was manipulated to make at least one of the people shown sound like he said something he never did. That person is activist Ady Barkan, co-founder of the Be a Hero political action committee, who has ALS and uses a voice assistant to speak.
Scalise’s video took a July interview with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Barkan from NowThis News. But instead of showing it as is, Scalise’s version combined audio clips from different parts of the conversation to make it look like Barkan said, “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding for police.” The unaltered version doesn’t include “for police.”
Barkan called out Scalise for the alteration and demanded he offer an apology to the “entire disability community” for taking advantage of Barkan’s manner of speaking.
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
This prompted Twitter to label Scalise’s tweet as “manipulated media” with large exclamation point and a link below the video. Twitter further explained why the tweet was tagged and included a page devoted to the background behind the manipulated content.
Twice in one interview Biden says “yes” & “yes absolutely” to questions about “redirecting” police funding.
Dems & their partners in the media want to blame “editing” to pretend this isn’t exactly what he believes.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) August 30, 2020
Later on Sunday, Scalise pushed back against the manipulated label, claiming his video accurately represents what Biden and other Democrats believe. He tweeted that “Dems & their partners in the media want to blame ‘editing'” and linked back to the full Biden-Barkan interview.
“See for yourself,” he wrote.
Let’s be clear, though. The video Scalise shared took advantage of the manner by which Barkan communicates to make him say something he never actually said. There’s deceptive editing, and then there’s making stuff up. Whether Scalise wants to admit it or not, he’s guilty of the latter.