Fox News Goes to War With White House Over ‘Cheap Fake’ Videos

Fox News
Fox News

Fox News fired back Tuesday after the White House accused the conservative cable giant and Trumpworld of peddling deceptively cut “cheap fake” videos to make President Joe Biden look decrepit and feeble.

The right-wing network’s hosts and pundits also made the bizarre claim that it’s a “felony” to mislabel “deepfake” videos and that CNN could find itself in “litigious territory” during the upcoming presidential debate if they criticized Fox’s coverage.

Over the past two weeks, the Republican National Committee and major conservative media outlets have amplified several short video clips supposedly showing the 81-year-old president freezing on stage, wandering off, or even pooping his pants.

While none of the clips have been doctored by artificial intelligence and are thus not technically “deepfakes,” media fact-checkers have noted that once the videos are shown from a different camera angle or viewed within context, they tend to fall apart under scrutiny.

It is the latest misleading clip, which was shared by the RNC Research social media account and then blasted out by the Post and other right-wing outlets, that really has drawn the ire of the White House. Taken at the end of a star-studded fundraiser, the short video that went viral appeared to show Biden standing frozen until former President Barack Obama grabbed his arm to lead him offstage.

A longer video, though, reveals that the president and Obama had just wrapped up an interview with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and then waved to the applauding crowd for roughly a minute before walking off stage together. The Biden administration has since blasted several Rupert Murdoch-owned publications for pushing so-called “cheap fakes” and disinformation.

During its coverage on Tuesday, Fox News aggressively rebuffed the White House’s claims that it had aired “manipulated” videos of Biden, noting throughout the day that the videos it had flooded its airwaves with had been “unedited.” The network also repeatedly aired clips of the fundraiser, Biden not dancing during a Juneteenth concert, and the president at the G7 approaching a skydiver who had just landed.

“These have not been cropped, they have not been sped up or slowed down or edited in any way,” Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum declared at one point on Tuesday morning.

Leading off its hour with a robust defense of the network’s coverage, the panelists of midday talk show Outnumbered railed against the White House for criticizing their coverage.

Brian Kilmeade also said that there is a “lot of pressure” on Biden to “stand on that debate stage,” referencing next week’s CNN presidential debate, prompting anchor Harris Faulkner to invoke the debunked claim that Biden was trying to change the debate rules so both candidates would be seated. “He wanted to sit!” Kilmeade falsely claimed.

The hosts also expressed dismay about the way CNN anchor Anderson Cooper criticized the “selectively edited” clips.

“I remember Anderson Cooper, what he just said scares me for the debate because he actually is saying that these are deepfakes,” Kilmeade exclaimed. “It makes me wonder what Jake Tapper and Dana Bash are going to be throwing at Trump.”

Faulkner, who works for a news channel that paid a whopping $787.5 million to settle a defamation lawsuit last year, then warned CNN and the White House that they could be in legal trouble over the way they described these videos.

“That is litigious territory where they’re going there. They better have some proof of that, because everything that [co-host Emily Compagno] just showed the audience was unedited, pool-type video,” she declared. “She softened it a little bit, [White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre], with cheap fakes. But then there’s video of the deepfakes. I mean, got to be careful with that. That’s a felony!”

Faulkner appeared to be referencing a comment made to her by White House correspondent Peter Doocy earlier in the day, when he said that “a deepfake can be a felony.”

While not directly calling out Fox News, the White House continued to rage against the network’s sister paper and conservative media as a whole in a statement to The Daily Beast on Tuesday.

“It’s telling that rightwing critics, including Rupert Murdoch’s sad little super PAC, the New York Post, resort to misinformation and cheap fakes because President Biden’s performance in office – fueling the strongest economic growth in the world, bringing violent crime to historic lows, and advancing our national security in the world – is so threatening to them that they feel a need to make things up,” White House Senior Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said.

Fox News media analyst Howie Kurtz on Tuesday, meanwhile, delivered his own fact check on air and pushed back against the White House’s “cheap fake” claims.

“Despite a couple of misleading headlines, Fox News has not shown any distorted video of Joe Biden, though some of its commentators who are paid for their opinions have talked about what they see as a fundamental decline,” Kurtz stated. “Now, the New York Post, owned by Fox’s sister company, intentionally or not, appeared to follow the RNC lead in running a front page cropped photo that seems to show at the G7, Joe Biden staring off into space when just a few feet away, but you can't see it in the picture are those skydivers who were just landed here. But there's a different kind of conflation going on here that, anything that you see now is manipulated by the media is false, is fake, is bogus, and that's flat out untrue.”

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