If you happen to see a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
stammering through a press conference as you make your rounds through social
media, be aware that the video is a fake. The video of Pelosi at a press
conference was altered to make it appear as though the speaker was stammering
and repeating herself. Accompanying descriptions often claim that she was
intoxicated when she gave the remarks.
None other than Fox
News is on record with a description of the fake news video’s origins. Fox
reports that the three-minute clip was from a speech yesterday at the Center
for American Progress in which Pelosi described President Trump’s angry exit
from a meeting with Democrats about infrastructure. Per Fox, the video was
uploaded to Facebook on a page called “Politics WatchDog.” At press time, the
video is still posted on the page and has 2.4 million views. Similar videos
have been removed from YouTube and Twitter.
Fox cites the Washington Post, saying that the video was apparently
“slowed down to 75 percent from the original speed and that her pitch was also
manipulated in order to present her under the influence.”
“It is striking that such a simple manipulation can be so effective and believable to some,” Berkeley computer science and digital forensics expert Hany Farid told the CNN. “While I think that deep-fake technology poses a real threat, this type of low-tech fake shows that there is a larger threat of misinformation campaigns — too many of us are willing to believe the worst in people that we disagree with.”
A separate fact-check article by Politifact notes that unaltered audio is available from C-SPAN and is noticeably different
than the audio accompanying the video, which has “more slurred and lisping than
the one on C-SPAN.”
The original altered video posted to Facebook is captioned, “House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on President Trump walking out infrastructure meeting: ‘It
was very, very, very strange.’” The clip closes with Pelosi saying that the
meeting with Trump was very strange.
In a subsequent post, Politics WatchDog seemed to
acknowledge that the video was fake, saying, “Just for the record [sic] we
never claimed that Speaker Pelosi was drunk. We can’t control what the people
in the comments think. It’s a free country. For your information [sic] we are
not a conservative news outlet.”
The fake nature of the page is also apparent by a poll that
the group posted which asks, “Should the Pelosi video be taking [sic] down?”
Legitimate news sites rarely leave obvious grammatical errors uncorrected.
A spokesman for Pelosi told CNN, “We’re not going to comment
on this sexist trash.”
Yesterday, President Trump tweeted a different video of Pelosi that had also been altered under the caption “PELOSI
STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE.” This video, which was originally aired on
Fox News’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” strings together a series of the speaker’s flubs
in a speech. Although altered through selective editing, this video does not
appear to be digitally manipulated.
While I am no fan of Speaker Pelosi and don’t agree with her
policy prescriptions, I do value truth over blatant lies, even when they are
about the opposition. The “drunk Pelosi” video is an example of the worst
inclinations of the right-wing media. The fact that some conservatives and
Republicans actually believe that the video is authentic is a far worse
reflection on the right than the doctored video is on Mrs. Pelosi.
Fake news remains a real problem, as do blatantly false
attempts at character assassination on both sides. Remember, kids, when surfing
the internet, if it seems too stupid to be true, it probably is. However, in
this day and age, you should probably check the source just to be sure.