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

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 Warren (D-Mass.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (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.”

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