Ady Barkan says edited Scalise video has ‘ominous lessons’ for election


Activist Ady Barkan addressed a clip tweeted by House Minority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) that spliced extra words into a question he asked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The video featured a clip of Barkan, who uses a computerized voice to communicate due to his ALS, asking Biden whether he favors “redirect[ing] some of the funding” from police to mental health and social services.

“Yes,” Biden responded. However, the video appears to have the words “for police” added in from earlier in the interview to the end of Barkan’s question.

The clip of the interview has since been removed from Scalise’s video after pushback. 

The activist said that though the lawmaker “scrubbed” the clip of the interview from the video, lessons about information and the use of technology to “mislead” and “manipulate” still remain. 

“Scalise eventually scrubbed the video from his Twitter feed after being criticized for the manipulation, but the ominous lessons of the episode remain: the ability to use technology not only for good but to mislead and manipulate; the willingness of those with political agendas to resort to such disinformation and propaganda; and the way in which America has cleaved into two separate information universes, with a conservative media ecosystem amplifying falsehoods that then take root,” Barkan wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Barkan continued in his op-ed to slam Scalise for not apologizing to him even after the lawmaker said the clip “shouldn’t have been edited.” Barkan went on to say that an incident such as this “exposes the broader information crisis in our society.”

“I’m not sure I know how to solve this problem. The collective outrage that got the video stricken from Twitter is a good place to start; that must not let up. Another might be looking at the polarizing effects of Facebook, where the video remains, gathering views,” he wrote.

Even if these steps are taken, more aggressive action is necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation ahead of the presidential election, he said. “What we desperately need is others ready to speak their own [words]— not speak false ones for me.”

Tags Ady Barkan Joe Biden Steve Scalise

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