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.
Originally published on The Resurgent