How Video Footage can LIE to you
The power of fake news beats our initial defences almost every time.
Fake news comes in many forms. Edited photos, misquotes and false correlations, these, among others, are all types of fake news which we all fall for; however the most convincing type of fake news is when it comes in the form of unedited video footage. You might be asking how is it that could possibly be fake, if it’s unedited, then surely it has to be real? This is why it’s so convincing. We’re trained, rightly so, to trust what we see. What I’m asking you to do, and what I will illustrate, is that you shouldn’t.
You can watch my YouTube video about this fake news tactic here, which includes the video clips I will be talking about, or continue reading for an in depth view.
Let’s go through what happened.
A question was directed at Vice President Kamala Harris asking about how long Americans need to worry about inflation. She looks up, motions to the president of Romania to answer before giving a non-sequitur response. This is stunning. It seems she tries to pass off a question about the United States to the president of another country, then when that doesn’t work, she gives a seemingly random answer which has nothing to do with what she was asked. What on earth is happening? How is she so incompetent?
This is fake news. This is how unedited video footage can lie to you.
When you see the full clip, you see that her answer wasn’t random at all and makes perfect sense in light of the full context. Her answer was in fact a response to a question that was asked before the clip started. It was a two-pronged question. Once she gives her first out of context answer (out of context due to the cut video), she continues and gives an answer about upcoming US economic struggles. However this second answer, like the first question, was deceptively cut from the video. Two questions were asked, two answers were given. The viral video only shows one question and one answer. It’s a typical fake news play.
There really isn’t much of a story here. So when Rita asks if Kamala tried to get the Romanian president to answer a question about inflation in her own country, the answer is no, Kamala did not try to do that and you, Rita, have fallen for fake news. Someone who works in the news business should know better.
Kamala Harris did answer the question about US inflation and upcoming economic struggles, unlike what the viral video suggested. I’m not going to say her answer was great, in fact it was terrible. She was asked how long Americans should be bracing for with regards to inflation and gas prices, her response was that there’s a price to pay for democracy and standing with your friends. Complete dogshit answer. Fine. All the criticism should be levelled at the poor answering of the question. This is what people should be hammering her for. But it’s not. People are criticising her for something that did not happen.
I’m ashamed to say that I fell for this for a total of 20 seconds, even with my experience of seeing this happen countless times over the past few years, it still temporarily fooled me. Here we see that the video evidence of Kamala’s ostensible incompetence is a complete fabrication when the extra context is provided. She answered the question (albeit awfully), but that’s completely different to what was initially shown on the video. It’s a shame because there is so much more to criticise her for her badly given answer.
This was not created to inform, this was created to manipulate. It is a deliberate attempt to mislead people. If the goal was to fairly criticise her, then they would show the entire clip and launch their criticisms from there. It is saddening to see so many people on the right falling for this considering they have been the primary victims of this malicious type of fake news in the past. Without leaving Trump we see the same tactic was used to create the Fine People Hoax, Drinking Bleach hoax, Calling Immigrants Animals hoax, and many more. You may not even be aware that some of the aforementioned hoaxes are indeed hoaxes. I hope that after seeing my video and reading this, you can see how easy it is to clip off relevant context to make things seem worse, if not the complete opposite, of what actually happened. This is precisely what happened to Trump every week.
Why is this effective?
A few reasons. Firstly, we are visual animals. Pictures and videos are great at persuading people and we’ve been trained to believe what we see. People will justify the hoax by saying they saw it on video without realising that they saw a dishonestly cut version. “I saw it with my own eyes, it’s literally on video!” is the hue and cry of all those who have ignorantly fallen victim to these hoaxes. I sympathise with particular people because it’s unnatural to doubt what we see on video.
Another reason is that this plays into confirmation bias. The people who have fallen for this already believe that Kamala is an extremely incompetent politician. So when a clip comes out confirming this, they lap it up. They’re presented with something that they are already primed to believe and people LOVE to reaffirm their beliefs. People like to be right.
Finally, after seeing the initial deceptive clip it’s easy to think “I can’t imagine the sort of context that would this clip make sense”. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any context, it simply means you can’t imagine it.
Remember, videos always lie. Context is inevitably left out, angles can change the depth on which we see things, sounds can be edited in afterwards or not captured, and we haven’t even touched on deep fakes yet. A little voice should play in the back of your head when you see political news footage warning you that this could be faked somehow. It’s always best to search for extra context before casting judgement.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for more context, in fact, it’s what we should be doing every time. If you find out there’s more context which changes the meaning of the original clip, awesome, you can point out how it’s dishonestly made. If the extra context doesn’t change anything, even better, you are now safe knowing that you are criticising someone as honestly as you can.
It’s hard to doubt your own eyes, but in today’s age, it’s essential to look at everything through the lens of scepticism.