A viral tweet criticising Joe Biden for not wearing a face mask on a plane features an image of the Democratic presidential candidate from last year before the coronavirus pandemic, it has been revealed.
Former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell shared the image to his 671,000 Twitter followers on Sunday (local time) alongside another showing Biden wearing a mask outside.
“Washington, DC phony!” he wrote.
“Joe Biden doesn’t wear a mask on a plane - but wears one outside!?”
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) November 1, 2020
The prominent Donald Trump campaigner and Republican National Committee senior adviser’s tweet was later shared by broadcaster Mark Levin, a vocal Republican who repeatedly attacked Barack Obama when he became US president in 2009.
Levin, who branded Biden a fraud, has 2.6 million followers.
The tweets, which have been retweeted more than 35,000 times, prompted a wave of comments slamming Biden.
“Bumbling Biden unmasked!” one person claimed.
However the image used by Grenell was taken from a Vogue article detailing the daily life of Remi Yamamoto, Biden’s travelling national press secretary, who is also pictured in the photo.
It was taken in November 2019 before the pandemic was known to the world.
An array of journalists and other users called the misleading tweets out, including CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.
“These people tweet in all caps about fake news,” he said.
This kind of thing is so inexcusable, irresponsible, and ultimately should be credibility-ruining to those who do it. It took me literally less than a minute to find (by Googling, of course) the original photo at @voguemagazine after I saw @KFILE's tweet. https://t.co/tfkPqZqzdt
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) November 2, 2020
“It's false viral claims being amplified or shared by top Trump officials or surrogates,” he later tweeted.
Journalist Jeryl Bier said the tweets were “inexcusable, irresponsible and ultimately should be credibility-ruining”.
While normally quick to respond to Trump’s misleading tweets, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN Grenell’s tweet and Levin’s retweet did not violate Twitter rules and there would be no warning placed on them.
However a ‘manipulated media’ warning later appeared on the tweets.
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