For President Trump and his allies, it was a week spent spreading doctored and misleading videos.
On Aug. 30, the president retweeted footage of a Black man violently pushing a White woman on a subway platform under the caption, “Black Lives Matter/Antifa” — but the man was not affiliated with either group, and the video was shot in October. White House social media director Dan Scavino shared a manipulated video that falsely showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seeming to fall asleep during a television interview, complete with a fake TV headline.
And Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, released a video splicing together quotes from activist Ady Barkan — who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses computer voice assistance — to falsely make it sound as if he had persuaded Biden to defund police departments.
For the president and his top supporters, it was a campaign push brimming with disinformation — disseminating falsehoods and trafficking in obfuscation at a rapid clip, through the use of selectively edited videos, deceptive retweets and false statements.
The slew of false and misleading tweets and videos stood in contrast to the approach taken by Biden, the former vice president, who in 2019 took a pledge promising not to participate in the spread of disinformation over social media, including rejecting the use of “deep fake” videos.
Trump has built a political career around falsehoods, issuing more than 20,000 false or misleading statements during the first three-plus years of his presidency. But many experts said the onslaught of the disinformation efforts by Trump and his team in the late weeks of the campaign make the deception particularly difficult to combat, not to mention dangerous to the country’s democratic institutions.