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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
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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 WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (D-Mass.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed MORE (I-Vt.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) — did not respond to Bloomberg's question.

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Two seconds later, Bloomberg said, "OK."

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

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"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."