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Cheap fakes: This BS narrative sure sounds familiar

Don’t believe the evidence right in front of you, they say. Sound familiar?

Major media are aiming to repeat their performance from the 2020 presidential election, back when they endeavored to deny, dismiss, and denounce a story that could have damaged the Democratic presidential nominee.

In that election cycle, the press reflexively rallied behind a theory that the contents of the infamous Hunter Biden laptop were “Russian disinformation,” a Kremlin plot to throw the election in the GOP’s favor. Some went as far as to suggest that the laptop itself was fake (or stolen or didn’t belong to Hunter). Under the flimsy pretense of combating Russian interference, major media engaged in an industry-wide conspiracy to censor and reject the story.

The laptop is real. It appeared as evidence against Hunter Biden in his gun-felony case.

There was never a legitimate reason for members of the press to have dismissed the laptop story out of hand, especially considering the fact that those who pushed the “Russian disinformation” theory never bothered to provide evidence beyond “Trust me, bro.” Major newsrooms merely insisted that you, the voter, disregard the story as well as what the laptop’s contents suggested regarding a possible globe-spanning influence-peddling operation involving Ukrainian business interests, Chinese nationals, and the Biden family.

Now, with a growing body of footage making plain the loss of pep in President Joe Biden’s step, major media insist once again that you look the other way.

Any journalist who covered Biden as vice president (raises hand) can tell you this: The Joe Biden of 2024 is not the Joe Biden of 2012 or 2008. Not even close. He’s barely even the Joe Biden of 2020.

The president mumbles and fumbles, often appearing confused. He is prone to rambling nonsensically or freezing up entirely. He struggles to perform basic physical activities, including walking and entering vehicles. There’s ample photographic and video evidence to back this. For crying out loud, the president wears special sneakers to keep from falling down.

Yet newsrooms insist there’s very little to the growing pile of video evidence showing Biden’s lapses and struggles. Those viral videos that have you worried about whether our country is safe in his hands? They are “cheap fakes,” media say, parroting the exact term used by the White House.

The Associated Press, for example, claimed recent footage of Biden on stage at the end of a fundraising event in Los Angeles is not what it seems. It certainly isn’t that Biden froze up while Barack Obama waved at members of the audience. It certainly isn’t that Biden’s former boss saw no choice but to take the president by the wrist and lead him off the stage, as one would a lost child. No sir! The video, which was captured and shared on social media by the Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner, shows a perfectly normal interaction. Obama merely wanted to appear “chummy,” the AP reports, citing an anonymous source who supposedly helped organize the event. Also, a spokesperson for the man who moderated the event said it’s “nonsense” to suggest Biden froze.

Please stop watching the video!

NBC News ran this headline: “Misleading GOP videos of Biden are going viral. The fact-checks have trouble keeping up.” The article explains that “cheap fakes” can be “rendered through Photoshop, lookalikes, re-contextualizing footage, speeding, or slowing.” It’s a fair point: Some of the Biden-has-lost-it viral videos are unfairly cropped or lack context.

But a handful of unfairly manipulated clips do not excuse away the entire body of footage showing that Biden is a long, long way away from who he was in 2012.

Take three videos: Nothing in them has been manipulated or unfairly clipped. Footage of Biden awkwardly wandering off after a television interview comes from MSNBC itself. No one is pushing or prodding the president when he trips, falls, or stumbles. There’s a reason White House aides build a camera-blocking human wall around the president whenever he crosses the White House lawn en route to Marine One.

These are not things that happened when Biden was vice president, at least not with such regularity and severity. Remember: Biden had no problem jamming up an opponent 28 years his junior during the 2012 vice presidential debate. What we see now is different. Biden is a different, older man.

Still, the White House and Democrats claim the videos are dirty pool. No one “works harder” than Biden, the White House insists, or “is better at making decisions.” The president is as quick as ever, as decisive as ever, and as sharp as ever. Why, he’s a great big capable and vigorous president, your lyin’ eyes notwithstanding.

More seriously, it’s worth dwelling a bit on the sudden appearance of the term “cheap fake” in news reporting and its coinciding exactly with the White House’s use of that exact term.

The Washington Post this week decried the supposed preponderance of “cheap fakes” on social media, claiming such videos have “become staples of Republican attacks against Biden.”

Meanwhile, CBS News published a primer, “What are cheap fakes?” Focusing on the hubbub surrounding the president’s recent G-7 junket, CBS said Biden is “victim to a simpler version of ‘deepfakes.’” Footage from the gathering of world leaders in Italy captured a moment in which Biden wandered away from the group, which had just watched a skydiving demonstration, to speak to other skydivers who’d landed — innocuous stuff. For some, however, both the raw footage of the incident, which the White House has emphasized, as well as the cropped version reveal a man seemingly disconnected from the other leaders, slow and stiff, and confused about his surroundings. In a comical mix-up, CBS originally included in its article the raw footage shared by the White House and labeled it “digitally altered video.” CBS later replaced that footage with the tightly cropped version, labeled “edited video.”

“Who will call out deepfakes that could influence the election?” NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian, who was disowned by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 after it was discovered he coordinated his stories with the CIA, asked on social media when he shared an article he co-authored, titled “The Biden admin has no firm plan to call out domestic disinformation in the 2024 election.”

Who indeed?

Look, the bottom line is this: No White House should lie to the public about the president’s health, especially after the close call we had with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s untimely death. In 1944, and with the help of an all-too-accommodating press, an already chronically ill FDR kept voters in the dark concerning his quickly deteriorating condition. He lied outright during the campaign, claiming he was in “pretty good health.” The press corps was in no rush to report otherwise, as the few who ran afoul of the “gentlemen’s agreement” between the news media and the FDR White House soon found themselves in exile.

FDR would go on to beat his Republican opponent, Thomas Dewey. Five months later, Roosevelt died in office, leaving the business of the Axis surrender, peace negotiations, and the most consequential military decision in the history of humanity to a vice president who’d started out as a humble haberdasher in Missouri. It’s only by the grace of God that FDR’s executive duties, and all the monumental decisions therein, fell to a man with so steady a hand as Harry Truman’s. A repeat of the same, and we may not be so lucky.

One would think that given the damage the Hunter Biden laptop fiasco did to the press’s already lower-than-dirt credibility, reporters would be loath, or at least slow, to embrace White House–approved election-year spin. One would also think that given how risky it was for FDR to lie about his health as he sought reelection, the national press would think twice about downplaying concerns over the physical and mental acuity of a man who wants another term in the most powerful office in the free world.

On both accounts, however, one would be wrong.

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