Washington Post fact-checker gives Bloomberg 4 Pinocchios for 'deceptive editing' in campaign ad

Washington Post fact-checker gives Bloomberg 4 Pinocchios for 'deceptive editing' in campaign ad
© Getty Images

The Washington Post Fact Checker column gave Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg four Pinocchios for "deceptive editing" in a campaign video that included footage from Wednesday night's Democratic debate.

The video focuses on a moment in the debate when Bloomberg, who founded his multibillion-dollar business decades ago, asked his rivals if it was fair to say he "was the only one here" who has "ever started a business."

The other five candidates on stage — Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories Seth Meyers returning to late-night TV with 'hybrid episodes' Biden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll MORE (D-Mass.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Poll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points GE employees urge company to use laid-off workers to make ventilators MORE (I-Vt.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegReuters poll finds Sanders cutting Biden national lead to single digits Biden says he'll adopt plans from Sanders, Warren Buttigieg guest-hosts for Jimmy Kimmel: 'I've got nothing else going on' MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Biden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll MORE (D-Minn.) — did not respond to Bloomberg's question.

ADVERTISEMENT

Two seconds later, Bloomberg said, "OK."

The campaign's edited video, however, painted a different picture.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The video takes that minor moment and stretches it to 22 seconds, with reaction shots that make the other candidates look troubled, embarrassed or confused," Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote. "The video is silent except for cricket sounds" and all the reactions are "taken from other moments in the debate."

He went on to criticize the ad for "editing out large portions from a video and presenting it as a complete narrative, despite missing key elements."

"We’re taking a tough line on manipulated campaign videos before viewers are flooded with so many fakes that they have trouble knowing what is true. The Bloomberg campaign should label this as a parody or else take the video down," Kessler added.

The Post's fact-checker applies Pinocchios ranging from one to four, with four being reserved for what the column considers the most egregiously misleading statements or actions.

Bloomberg deputy national spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told MSNBC on Friday that the video was meant to be "a joke" and should have been labeled as such.

"I think [the video] was to prove this is someone who is a business leader, who has ties to the business community, who can get things done, who has worked in the private and the public sector. It was a video that was meant to put out really as a joke. And I think social media companies should label it as such, as a joke. It was not meant to be misinformation at all."

When asked by MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin why it wasn't labeled as a joke, Singh responded, "I think it was clear. There was no sound of crickets on the debate stage."