Whatever you think about Joe Biden, he is viewed as the biggest threat to Trump and to other Democrats right now. That makes him the prime target for disinformation campaigns.
January 2, 2020

On the first day of 2020, a disinformation campaign launched against Joe Biden was shared by journalists and other people on Twitter with a wide reach and high trust factor. The purpose of the edited video? To divide Democrats along racial lines.

The 19-second video, which was clipped from a 13-minute answer Biden gave with regard to his work on domestic violence, was deceptively edited to suggest Biden was really a closet white supremacist. Whatever one thinks about Joe Biden, it is preposterous to use a 19-second clip to contradict his actual record. Nevertheless, that's what happened.

Greg Sargent reports:

Biden opened by talking about how English common law in the 1300s allowed for husbands to beat their wives, and then said that we had inherited this “cultural problem.” Biden then talked at great length about his father’s teachings to him, his work in the Senate on domestic violence, and other related matters.

Toward the end, Biden circled back to English common law, and said this:

Folks, this is about changing the culture, our culture, our culture. It’s not imported from some African nation or some Asian nation. It’s our English jurisprudential culture, our European culture, that says it’s all right.

The edited video removes that first sentence and the very last clause, so all you hear is this:

Our culture, our culture. It’s not imported from some African nation or some Asian nation. It’s our English jurisprudential culture, our European culture.

The full video is above. You can watch it for yourself, but it is patently obvious that the goal was to remove all context and replace it with the suggestion that Biden was really a white supremacist.

Daniel Dale, CNN's fact-checker extraordinaire, debunked it immediately, but not soon enough to keep it from being shared far and wide by prominent verified Twitter users.

This is just a shot across the bow. Disinformation is the currency of Trump, the Trump campaign, Russians, and anyone else who feels the need to meddle in our elections. Since Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that election meddling is welcome in 2020, expect this to be the norm, not the exception. I don't know who edited the video, I don't know what team they were playing on, and it doesn't really matter. What matters is that it captured the attention of social media influencers, who picked up the ball and ran with it before realizing they'd been duped. Many of them deleted their tweets and apologized for reacting, but many did not, even when confronted with the full context of Biden's remarks.

Welcome to the disinformation decade. It's on us to minimize the impact, by taking care not to amplify or spread disinformation. Context matters. Truth matters. Deliberation matters. Don't let them win.

"Trump views disinformation not as a scourge to be combated in the name of protecting our democracy, but as an ally," warns Sargent. "In this particular case, Trump has not retweeted the video of Biden — yet. But let’s try to learn from this."

Indeed. C&L views our role in the battle against disinformation to be key, which is why we're committed to making sure our video clips are in context and our posts accurately reflect what is being said. Discernment is going to be a large factor in sorting out information from distraction as well. But we are absolutely determined to get this right and be part of the solution rather than the problem.

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