US President Donald Trump shared a bizarre video that included a CNN logo and ticker, claiming the news organisation reported on a viral video incorrectly. Twitter responded by labelling the video as “manipulated media” and many on social media criticised the US president for what they said was insensitivity. The video is an altered version of one that was widely shared on the internet in September 2019.
The spoof video retweeted by Trump was made by a Twitter handle @CarpeDonktum, which in its Twitter bio claims to be an “eternally sarcastic memesmith specializing in the creation of memes to support President Donald J. Trump.”
The doctored clip made it appear as if the video was a CNN report that featured the two toddlers running on a sidewalk. The ticker on the screen read: “Terrified todler (sic) runs from racist baby”. The clip also accused “fake news” of spreading misinformation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2020
The original video was shared on Facebook by the father of one of the children and had caused the toddlers named Finnegan and Maxwell to become internet sensations. In the video, they are seen running towards each other, embracing, and then running off together.
CNN journalists and various other media organisation which reported on the tweet flagged it as being fake. Soon after, Twitter added a warning label. This is the latest such label added by the company in recent weeks. Twitter earlier fact-checked misinformation from a Trump tweet, and added a note of warning about a tweet that it said glorified violence. Recently, Twitter also disabled a video from the Trump campaign in tribute to George Floyd.
CNN’s official handle responded to Trump’s tweet saying they reported the incident “exactly as it happened” and criticised the US president for using innocent children to attack the press. They also urged him to “be better”.
“CNN did cover this story – exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better,” CNN wrote.
CNN did cover this story – exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better. https://t.co/T1nBtejZta
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) June 19, 2020
Many on Twitter were angered by the post and criticised Trump. Many wondered if the president was trying to suggest that racism doesn’t exist in America. Many also demanded that the video be taken down.
Only you would take what is a beautiful example of love (showing racism is a learned behavior) & turn it into a pathetic attack on so-called “fake news” designed to discredit legitimate journalism. Bonus: Misspelling “Toddler” in the chyron is so on-brand! #SAD #LoserTrump https://t.co/y81hWhmCXD
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 19, 2020
The President of the United States just sent out this tweet.
We are beyond the Twilight Zone now.
This is complete insanity. https://t.co/5LxigzvTH9
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) June 19, 2020
Imagine living through the last month in America, then turning around and trying to turn racism into a punchline.
You’d cringe if your drunk uncle posted this, let alone the president. https://t.co/cqNBpdkRA5
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 19, 2020
So, basically Trump is trying to convince us that racism in the US is just fake news. https://t.co/69auLsueSt
— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) June 19, 2020
This would’ve been beneath the dignity of the presidency before Trump killed dignity https://t.co/t7LkyROWy1
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) June 19, 2020
can someone please take his phone https://t.co/s92RuQSYa4
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 19, 2020
This is the social media account of the president? Of the United States? Until recently, a G20 country? https://t.co/R1amdsusQk
— David Frum (@davidfrum) June 19, 2020
— Darlene McDonald (@VoteDarlene) June 19, 2020
The depths to which you sink is still stunning
— Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) June 19, 2020
— Keiko Agena (@KeikoAgena) June 19, 2020
Everyone could tell that the CNN chyron was fake and that it was satire. I mean what babies can vote lol. But I have to say, Twitter slapping on a Manipulated Media label to this tweet is an awesome flex and I support it because it pisses Trump off and is quite frankly hilarious.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 19, 2020
What gross soulless dumpster of a man would take that sweet video of two little children’s’ friendship, one everyone has seen and loved, and twist it for their own warped political purposes?
ANSWER: DONALD J. TRUMP
— JeremyNewberger (@jeremynewberger) June 19, 2020
Why promote a video like this with such ridiculous chyrons? Why not put a headline on it saying, “No one is born racist. It’s a learned behavior!”
— Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) June 19, 2020
Only Donald Trump would use innocent children in a campaign ad. 🙄 Shameful,
— Jules Morgan (@glamelegance) June 19, 2020
After Twitter started fact-checking his tweets, Trump threatened to regulate or shutter social media companies. Later, he signed an executive order aimed at removing certain protections for social media platforms that aim to safeguard them from any liabilities arising out of the content that is posted on their websites. The order gives federal regulators the agency to take action against online platforms that are seen to be censoring free speech.