In a video circulated by White House Deputy Chief Of Staff Dan Scavino via Twitter on Sunday night, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden appears to fall asleep during an interview with newscaster Leyla Santiago, now a CNN correspondent. Twitter has now flagged the video, which has 2.1 million views as of this post, as manipulated media. The reason? As CBS Sacramento anchor John Dabkovich clarifies in his own tweet, “This is fake. You know how I know? I was the coanchor in studio. We were interviewing Harry Belafonte.”
Indeed, multiple YouTube videos from 2011 show Belafonte apparently dozed off while Santiago attempts to interview him on Bakersfield’s KBAK-TV. His publicist later told the station it was a technical glitch and Belafonte was stuck in freeze frame. Whatever happened there, it was nine years ago, and it didn’t involve Joe Biden. Rather, the footage has been doctored to reflect negatively on Biden. It’s a reminder that videos can easily be manipulated and not everything you see online is real.
Now Belafonte, the 93-year-old singer-songwriter and actor, has offered a statement on the deepfake to the New York Times. “They keep stooping lower and lower,” Belafonte writes. “A technical glitch in an interview I did nine years ago now becomes another one of their lies, more of their fake news. I beg every sane American — please vote them out. I knew many who gave their life for the right to vote. Never has it been so vital to exercise that right.”
Both the doctored video and the original footage are viewable below.