Home Politics Trump And Biden - When Does Editing Become Manipulation?

Trump And Biden – When Does Editing Become Manipulation?



Myself I would take this as a certain fear in some media quarters that Trump is going to do it again. The complaint is that the Trump campaign is manipulating imagery and quotations from Joe Biden in order to make him look older, more stupid and possibly even senile. This is also known as editing. So, the question becomes when does editing become manipulation?

Donald Trump’s presidential re-election campaign has repeatedly produced manipulated online content over the past week.

The Trump campaign published a set of Facebook ads that featured the president’s Democratic rival Joe Biden looking older than the 77-year-old former vice-president is. The ads fall in line with one of the president’s favorite attack lines for Biden: that he’s too old and infirm to run for president. (Trump is 74 years old.)


That’s slightly unfair, sure. But it would also be possible to gain that same exact photo by changing the way the original camera was used. It’s a matter of the light, perhaps a filter. And yet who said politics was ever going to be fair?

Think about how what Trump says is truncated, manipulated. Or, to use a different example, this from Joseph Harker of The Guardian:

Let us not forget that an intellectual hero for many of these writers is historian David Starkey, a prominent media voice for decades, who this summer seemed to almost regret that “so many damn blacks” had survived slavery.

That’s not what Starkey did say. Rather, he made this point:

No, Starkey pointed out that US slavery, based as it was upon cotton plantations, not sugar, wasn’t that appalling a physical – note physical, we are not talking liberty here but just living standards – thing to try to have to live through. The proof being that there are a lot of descendants of those who did live through it. More than those on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean. Actually, more than, proportionately, those who tried but failed to live through Stalinist collectivisation in many a country. So well done in turning that phrase around into an entirely different meaning.

Editing the sayings of opponents is commonplace, see?

On Sunday, White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino tweeted a fake video that appeared to show Biden sleeping through a TV interview. A day later, the campaign’s “Trump War Room” Twitter account shared a truncated clip of Biden saying, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

In the full quote, which the clip did not include, Biden said: “Trump and Pence are running on this, and I find it fascinating: Quote, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ And what’s their proof? The violence we’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”

I have actually worked in political PR. This is normal, this is the state of the game. And it ain’t the Orange Man proto-fascists who are the only guilty ones. As Harker proves, as any light reading of the American media also shows over whatever it is that Trump has said recently.

Sure, this is tu quoqoe. It’s also true.



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in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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