Amid several days of severe rancor between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which included the president storming out of a meeting with the speaker and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer Wednesday and rival press appearances in which the two sniped at each other, Trump and his supporters appear to be pushing the line that Pelosi is senile and inarticulate.
Per The Washington Post, a series of videos began circulating online this week that were doctored to imply that Pelosi was drunk, or perhaps slurring her words otherwise. Despite Facebook seemingly cutting down on fake news following the 2016 election, one such video, on an obscure Facebook page called Politics WatchDog, had over 2 million views as of Thursday night.
Per analysts interviewed by the newspaper, the video was slowed down to 75 percent speed, in order to create the impression that the speaker was intoxicated. The episode raised concerns by experts of “deepfakes,” the concept of realistic-looking fake videos, although the Facebook videos of Pelosi were a bit less sophisticated than that.
It remains unclear who exactly was behind the fake videos, which were posted throughout the internet, including various local news comment sections.
Meanwhile, President Trump tweeted a video Thursday night, from Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business Network show, with the caption “Pelosi Stammers Through News Conference.” While the video Trump tweeted was certainly edited in a way that was unflattering to Pelosi, it was not one of the fake videos cited in the Washington Post story. This was pointed out on Twitter by journalist Yashar Ali.
Even as a growing number of Democratic lawmakers call for an impeachment inquiry, Nancy Pelosi insists that the time has not yet come. Her position is increasingly incoherent, says @michelleinbklyn. https://t.co/MxDE5KMaac— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) May 23, 2019
It was, however, consistent with the message, pushed by Trump and his allies throughout the day Thursday, that the 79-year-old House speaker is senile and doesn’t speak well. However, per Ali on Twitter, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani indeed tweeted out one of the fake videos, although he later deleted it.
After the president stormed out of a meeting with Pelosi and Schumer earlier this week, Pelosi gave a press conference in which she stated that “I pray for the president of the United States. I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country,” per The Hill.
President Trump, who is also in his 70s, is no stranger to online videos in which his ability to speak clearly, as well as his mental functions, has been called into question. The same has also been said about Rudy Giuliani.