Fake audio added to CNN post-debate coverage

Following the first debate of the 2024 election between US President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Donald Trump, posts say CNN political director David Chalian suggested replacing the incumbent as the Democratic nominee, making inflammatory remarks in an analysis. But the video is altered; a CNN spokesperson confirmed the audio is fake and a review of the original footage uncovered no such statements.

The altered comments appeared in a video circulating on X with Chalian following the June 27 presidential debate.

"I'm mean, guys at this point, I don't give a shit if they bring out Gavin Newsom or maybe Hillary Clinton or even Big Mike -- I mean even Michelle Obama. Sorry, I don't know why I said Big Mike," Chalin appears to say in a June 28, 2024 X post by "Il Donaldo Trumpo," an account AFP has previously debunked numerous times.

<span>Screenshot of an X post taken June 28, 2024</span>
Screenshot of an X post taken June 28, 2024

The claims spread elsewhere on X and Facebook.

Biden struggled to counter his rival, who delivered a series of unchallenged false and misleading statements about everything from the economy to immigration throughout the evening, re-igniting questions about replacing the veteran Democrat as the party's nominee.

Speculation flew that other Democratic politicians -- Vice President Kamala Harris, Governors Gavin Newsom of California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania are mentioned -- might be called upon for the ticket.

But the clip purporting to show the CNN vice president discuss Biden's replacement is digitally altered with fake audio, replacing his real remarks from the 0:15 mark to the end of the video spreading on social media.

"This audio is fake," CNN spokesperson Dylan Rose said in a June 28, 2024 email.

The footage was taken from a segment where Chalin discusses the results of the CNN flash poll on who debate watchers felt emerged victorious. According to the poll, 67 percent said Trump won while 33 percent of the votes went to Biden.

Here are Chalin's full remarks, with the quotes replaced with the fake audio in bold:

Yeah, So, Erin, I first want to just stress, everyone, this is a poll of debate watchers. So this is not necessarily representative of the electorate overall, although I will say as a partisan makeup, these debate watchers do pretty much look like registered voters, maybe about 4 or 5 percentage points more Republican than the usual universe of registered voters. So just to keep that in mind, as you see these results, that little bit of shift won't make a difference here. Look at the big question of the night. Who won the debate? We asked debate watchers in our poll. And the answer is a resounding Donald Trump did. 67% of debate watchers in our poll say Donald Trump won the debate tonight. And Joe Biden, 33% say he won the debate tonight. Now, this group of debate watchers, they told us who they thought would win the debate going into it before the debate. And take a look at how that changed over time. 

Read more of AFP's reporting on misinformation about the 2024 US election here.