White House defends doctored video Trump posted as ‘satirical’


The White House defended President Donald Trump’s tweet of a doctored video he shared on Thursday night of a black toddler running from a ‘racist’ white boy, which Twitter labeled ‘manipulated media,’ as sarcastic and funny.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was making ‘a satirical point that was quite funny’ and noted his tweet was specifically targeted at CNN, a TV network the president regularly blasts as fake news.

‘The president was making a satirical point that was quite funny if you go and actually watch the video,’ she said at her press briefing on Friday.

‘He was making a point about CNN specifically. He was making a point that CNN is regularly taking him out of context,’ she noted. 

The president regularly labels news content he doesn’t like as ‘fake news.’ 

Twitter cracked down on President Trump’s account again when it marked the tweet as ‘manipulated media’. 

The video had been edited to look like a package from CNN. It showed the black child running in the opposite direction from the white boy with a fake CNN strap which read: ‘Breaking news. Terrified toddler runs from racist baby. Racist baby probably a Trump voter.’ 

The shot cuts away to a black screen with the message ‘what actually happened’. It then shows the two boys running towards each other in the street to hug.

The real video, of the two boys – Maxwell and Finnegan – hugging in the street, went viral last year and recently resurfaced in joyful memes about reuniting with friends and family when the coronavirus pandemic is over. 

It’s unclear who made the edited version Trump tweeted on Thursday night. 

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President Trump on Thursday shared a doctored video with a CNN chyron that reads: 'Terrified toddler runs from racist baby'. Trump's tweet prompted Twitter to add a disclaimer warning users that it was 'manipulated media.' The disclaimer links to a web page outlining Twitter policies as they relate to selectively edited clips

President Trump on Thursday shared a doctored video with a CNN chyron that reads: ‘Terrified toddler runs from racist baby’. Trump’s tweet prompted Twitter to add a disclaimer warning users that it was ‘manipulated media.’ The disclaimer links to a web page outlining Twitter policies as they relate to selectively edited clips

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was making 'a satirical point that was quite funny' in her defense of the doctored video he tweeted

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was making ‘a satirical point that was quite funny’ in her defense of the doctored video he tweeted

The second part of the chyron read 'racist baby probably a Trump voter'. It never aired on CNN but the video was edited to make it look like it had

The second part of the chyron read ‘racist baby probably a Trump voter’. It never aired on CNN but the video was edited to make it look like it had 

The clip is a selectively edited and spliced version of a viral video from last year showing two two-year-old boys - one black and one white - embracing

The clip is a selectively edited and spliced version of a viral video from last year showing two two-year-old boys – one black and one white – embracing

Trump tweeted the clip, which showed the actual footage of young Maxwell (above) running with open arms to embrace his friend Finnegan (below) in New York City last fall, as a way of criticizing media coverage of racial tensions in America

Trump tweeted the clip, which showed the actual footage of young Maxwell (above) running with open arms to embrace his friend Finnegan (below) in New York City last fall, as a way of criticizing media coverage of racial tensions in America

The two boys are seen embracing in the clip that the president shared on social media on Thursday

The two boys are seen embracing in the clip that the president shared on social media on Thursday

It comes just hours after Facebook banned adverts for the president’s re-election campaign which they said featured a symbol used by the Nazis. 

The true story behind the edited viral video of two two-year-old ‘besties’ posted by Trump as boy’s dad 

President Trump on Thursday used a deceptively edited video of two toddlers to claim that CNN was distorting coverage of racial tensions in America.

But the actual video was first posted last fall. The two little boys who melted hearts in the video are seen racing towards each other with open arms for a big hug.

Maxwell and Finnegan became best friends after their parents met in a New York restaurant and have been ‘inseparable’ ever since.

Maxwell and Finnegan became best friends after their parents met in a New York restaurant

Maxwell and Finnegan became best friends after their parents met in a New York restaurant 

Now the youngsters are such firm friends that the two families vacation together upstate, Maxwell Hanson’s dad Michael Cisneros told DailyMail.com last September.

In the adorable clip shared last fall, Maxwell and his friend Finnegan, who are both two years old and separated in age by just a month, can both be seen running towards each other giggling and laughing.

Maxwell Hanson was on his way home from daycare in Brooklyn with his dads Alex, 39, and Michael when they bumped into Finnegan and his dad, Dan.

Speaking to DailyMail.com Michael, 43, said: ‘We really got on with his parents so we started all hanging out and their friendship just blossomed.

‘Once they saw each other they immediately started running towards each other, and that’s when I pulled out my camera.’

The two boys are said to share a love of Disney, watching Moana, Coco and The Lion King together and live just one block away from each other.

Michael, who adopted Maxwell as a newborn baby with partner Alex, added: ‘His parents and us met just over a year ago and really connected. 

‘They are always super excited to see each other, even if they’ve only been a part. They are partners in crime and when one does something, the other does as well.

‘We have a place upstate with a pool, and Finnegan and his parents come stay with us often.’ 

Michael said the boys now share their toys, food and clothes and even ‘communicate with each other in ways we don’t understand’.   

He added: ‘And whenever they are apart, they each ask for each other. It really is the cutest thing.’

Finnegan is described by Michael as the ‘more outgoing one’, while his son Maxwell ‘is a bit shy until he gets to know someone’. But he added: ‘They are both super active.’

The two boys share a love of Disney and live one block away from each other. 'They communicate with each other in ways we don¿t understand', Maxwell's dad Michael says

The two boys share a love of Disney and live one block away from each other. ‘They communicate with each other in ways we don’t understand’, Maxwell’s dad Michael says

CNN reacted angrily to the president’s tweet and said the president was ‘tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children’. 

‘CNN did cover this story – but exactly as it happened. Just as CNN has reported your positions on race (and your poll numbers). 

‘We’ll continue working with facts and invite you to do the same, rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. Be better,’ a spokesman said.  

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN: ‘This Tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context.’ 

Michael Cisneros, who adopted Maxwell who is featured in the video as a newborn, took to Facebook Thursday slamming Trump. He wrote: ‘He (Trump) will not turn this loving, beautiful video to further his hate agenda.’ 

Late Wednesday, the DOJ revealed its plans to limit big tech platforms’ legal protections from being sued.

On Wednesday the Justice Department unveiled proposals to limit big tech platforms’ legal protections from being sued for moderating content – a move which follows Trump’s accusations of conservatives being ‘censored’ by web giants.   

The proposals from Attorney General Bill Barr’s department would dilute the ability of internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter to declare content ‘objectionable’ and remove or downplay it at will.

Conservatives claim that the platforms have used that protection to censor their views, including those of Trump, in an escalating row over what they say is an attempt to stifle their point of view.

But web giants say the sweeping immunities – which are encapsulated in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 are essential to the existence of the modern internet and deny anti-conservative bias. 

The plans are outlined in a document which seeks to amend the act, meaning it is subject to both the House and the Senate taking up the proposals. 

The Democratic-controlled House is unlikely to take up a Republican proposal and in the Senate it would need either to be tabled by Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader or forced on to the agenda with 60 votes, neither of which seem likely in an election year. 

But pushing for reform is a key part of Trump and his administration’s appeal to conservatives and would be used as a campaign pitch to vote for Republicans in House elections too. 

Currently Section 230 protects internet platforms from being sued for virtually any content posted on them.

It also allows the platforms to freely remove or moderate content they declare ‘objectionable’ without any ability for those affected to seek redress. 

There are no limits on what Google or others can call ‘objectionable,’ or requirement to explain in advance what they might define that way, or how.

In recent weeks platforms have used that power to remove posts about coronavirus and protests in the wake of George Floyd’s deaths which they say spread false claims or fomented violence and racial division. 

The DOJ’s proposals would change the law to redefine ‘objectionable’ far more narrowly as material which is ‘unlawful’ or ‘promotes terrorism.’

The DOJ said in its discussion document that this would end ‘a platform’s ability to remove content arbitrarily or in ways inconsistent with its terms or service simply by deeming it “objectionable.”‘

The second part of the change would say that removal or moderation of posts has to be in ‘good faith,’ meaning that any censorship was ‘in accordance with plain and particular terms of service and accompanied by a reasonable explanation.’ 

Earlier this month, Twitter took down a Trump campaign video featuring images from the George Floyd protests due to a copyright claim. 

The president reacted angrily, accusing Twitter of ‘fighting hard for the Radical Left Democrats’ and waging a ‘one-sided battle’ which he called ‘illegal.’

Trump also referenced Section 230.

Trump made the comments in a Twitter post linking to a news story about the decision by Twitter and Facebook to remove the clip.

Last month, Twitter placed fact-check warnings on two tweets from Trump’s own account that called mail-in ballots ‘fraudulent’ and predicted problems with the November elections. 

Under the tweets, there is now a link reading ‘Get the facts about mail-in ballots’ that guides users to a Twitter ‘moments’ page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

Maxwell's father said the president was using the video to 'further his hate agenda'

Maxwell’s father said the president was using the video to ‘further his hate agenda’ 

It also demoted and placed a stronger warning on a third Trump tweet about Minneapolis protests that read, in part, that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ 

Michael D. Cisneros with his son Maxwell

Michael D. Cisneros with his son Maxwell 

Twitter said that the tweet had violated the platforms rules by glorifying violence.

Trump has long railed about perceived liberal bias among social media companies.

On May 28, Trump signed an executive order seeking to scrap legal protections for social media firms, which he has accused of political bias. 

The order could open Twitter, Facebook and Google up to lawsuits by diluting the legal protection which stops them from being liable for posts on their platforms, and which also allows them to moderate content. 

Trump’s executive order said websites such as Twitter and Facebook ‘wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events’. 

Twitter said the order was a political move which attacked free speech. 

Targets: Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook and Jack Dorsey's Twitter would see their protection from being sued if they censor particular points of view being diluted

Targets: Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook and Jack Dorsey's Twitter would see their protection from being sued if they censor particular points of view being diluted

Targets: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Jack Dorsey’s Twitter would see their protection from being sued if they censor particular points of view being diluted

Twitter posted a blue exclamation mark alert underneath two of Trump's tweets about potential for fraud with mail-in voting, a move that infuriated the president and led to the administration attempting to crack down on big tech companies

Twitter posted a blue exclamation mark alert underneath two of Trump’s tweets about potential for fraud with mail-in voting, a move that infuriated the president and led to the administration attempting to crack down on big tech companies

Earlier this month, the president accused Twitter of ¿fighting hard for the Radical Left Democrats¿ and waging a ¿one-sided battle¿ which he called ¿illegal.¿ Trump also referenced 'Section 230' - shorthand for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which protects social media companies from legal liability for content posted by third-party users of their platforms

Earlier this month, the president accused Twitter of ‘fighting hard for the Radical Left Democrats’ and waging a ‘one-sided battle’ which he called ‘illegal.’ Trump also referenced ‘Section 230’ – shorthand for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which protects social media companies from legal liability for content posted by third-party users of their platforms

The video shared by the Trump campaign Twitter account was disabled 'in response to a report by the copyright owner' the message in its place said

The video shared by the Trump campaign Twitter account was disabled ‘in response to a report by the copyright owner’ the message in its place said

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on May 29. The tweet was controversial due to the reference of 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts'

Trump initially posted this message to Twitter and Facebook just before 1am on May 29. The tweet was controversial due to the reference of ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’

Facebook, which was severely criticized by many, including its own employees, for allowing the ‘looting-shooting’ post to remain unchanged, on Thursday removed political ads from Trump’s campaign, saying they violated the company’s policy against ‘organized hate.’ 

The 88 ads featured an inverted red triangle, a symbol the Nazi’s used to mark political prisoners in concentration camps during World War II, but the Trump campaign said it was simply an ’emoji.’

‘We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,’ said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone in a statement. 

‘Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.’ 

The Trump campaign said the red triangle was an ‘antifa symbol.’ 

‘The inverted red triangle is a symbol used by Antifa, so it was included in an ad about Antifa. We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it’s curious that they would target only this ad,’ Trump campaign director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

It was an unusual move by Facebook, which has tried to keep itself out of the debate on the responsibilities of social media platforms when it comes to disinformation and hate speech. 

Trump shared the video on Thursday from a pro-Trump meme-making account that goes by the name CarpeDonktum.  

The 88 ads featured an inverted red triangle, a symbol the Nazis used to mark political prisoners in concentration camps during World War II

The 88 ads featured an inverted red triangle, a symbol the Nazis used to mark political prisoners in concentration camps during World War II

Last year, the CarpeDonkum account was briefly suspended by Twitter after a video on the account depicted the president massacring a group of journalists and political opponents. 

AG Bill Barr's Justice Department has unveiled plans to change the law after Donald Trump claimed conservative viewpoints are being stifled by web giants

AG Bill Barr’s Justice Department has unveiled plans to change the law after Donald Trump claimed conservative viewpoints are being stifled by web giants

The video was shown to a gathering of the president’s supporters last October at Trump National Doral Miami.

The video, which was circulated on the internet by Trump supporters, is an edited version of the church massacre scene from the 2014 dark comedy film Kingsman: The Secret Service, starring Colin Firth.

It shows Trump’s head superimposed on Firth’s body as he walks into ‘the church of fake news,’ where the congregants represent major American news outlets like NBC, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Politico, Vox, Vice News, The Hill, BuzzFeed News, and others.

Trump then goes on a killing rampage, using a gun and spear to shoot and stab the parishioners. 

SECTION 230: THE LAW TRUMP IS TAKING AIM AT OVER CLAIMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA BIAS

Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today.

Those are the words President Donald Trump challenged in an executive order Thursday, one that would strip those protections if online platforms engaged in ‘editorial decisions’ – including, in the president’s view, adding a fact-check warning to one of Trump’s tweets.

Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act – itself part of a broader telecom law – provides a legal ‘safe harbor’ for internet companies.

But Trump and other politicians argue that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity – or at least have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.

Section 230 probably can’t be easily dismantled. But if it was, the internet as we know it might cease to exist.

Just what is Section 230?

If a news site falsely calls you a swindler, you can sue the publisher for libel. But if someone posts that on Facebook, you can’t sue the company – just the person who posted it.

That’s thanks to Section 230, which states that ‘no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.’

That legal phrase shields companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted – whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in ‘good faith.’

Where did Section 230 come from?

The measure’s history dates back to the 1950s, when bookstore owners were being held liable for selling books containing ‘obscenity,’ which is not protected by the First Amendment. One case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which held that it created a ‘chilling effect’ to hold someone liable for someone else´s content.

That meant plaintiffs had to prove that bookstore owners knew they were selling obscene books, said Jeff Kosseff, the author of ‘The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,’ a book about Section 230.

Fast-forward a few decades to when the commercial internet was taking off with services like CompuServe and Prodigy. Both offered online forums, but CompuServe chose not to moderate its, while Prodigy, seeking a family-friendly image, did.

CompuServe was sued over that, and the case was dismissed. Prodigy, however, got in trouble. The judge in their case ruled that ‘they exercised editorial control – so you’re more like a newspaper than a newsstand,’ Kosseff said.

That didn’t sit well with politicians, who worried that outcome would discourage newly forming internet companies from moderating at all. And Section 230 was born.

‘Today it protects both from liability for user posts as well as liability for any clams for moderating content,’ Kosseff said.

What happens if Section 230 is limited or goes away?

‘I don´t think any of the social media companies would exist in their current forms without Section 230,’ Kosseff said. ‘They have based their business models on being large platforms for user content.’

There are two possible outcomes. Platforms might get more cautious, as Craigslist did following the 2018 passage of a sex-trafficking law that carved out an exception to Section 230 for material that ‘promotes or facilitates prostitution.’ Craigslist quickly removed its ‘personals’ section altogether, which wasn’t intended to facilitate sex work. But the company didn´t want to take any chances.

This outcome could actually hurt none other than the president himself, who routinely attacks private figures, entertains conspiracy theories and accuses others of crimes.

‘If platforms were not immune under the law, then they would not risk the legal liability that could come with hosting Donald Trump´s lies, defamation, and threats,’ said Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Another possibility: Facebook, Twitter and other platforms could abandon moderation altogether and let the lower common denominator prevail.

Such unmonitored services could easily end up dominated by trolls, like 8chan, which is infamous for graphic and extremist content, said Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. Undoing Section 230 would be an ‘an existential threat to the internet,’ he said.

But Goldman doesn’t see the White House order as that kind of threat to the internet, saying it’s ‘political theater’ that will appeal to Trump supporters. ‘The president can’t override Congress,’ he said. 

ASSOCIATED PRESS 



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