Right-wing media outlets use deceptively cropped video to misleadingly claim Biden wandered off at G7 summit

Right-wing media outlets used a deceptively cropped video to misleadingly claim President Joe Biden wandered off during an event with other world leaders at the G7 summit in Italy on Thursday.

Video shared by the New York Post on X showed part of a skydiving demonstration in front of several world leaders in Italy that involved several parachutists landing near the group, with each skydiver carrying a flag representing the different G7 countries.

In the full, unedited video, Biden – who was standing with the group of leaders as a parachutist carrying a G7 banner landed in front of them – briefly turned away to give a thumbs-up to several parachutists who had landed behind the group, along with a parachute rigger who was kneeling on the ground to pack up one of the skydiver’s chutes and the French flag.

Other leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, also briefly look toward that group. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni then walks toward Biden, taps him on the arm, and motions for him to join the other leaders who were being briefed by an Italian Army officer about the demonstration they just watched.

But the video shared by the Post on X cropped out the kneeling parachute rigger, omitting the context of why Biden walked away from the group. “President Biden appeared to wander off at the G7 summit in Italy, with officials needing to pull him back to focus,” the social-media post said.

That claim later became the basis of the Post’s Friday front page, which called Biden the “MEANDER IN CHIEF” and accused the president of embarrassing the US with “confused wanderings.”

The White House on Thursday criticized the Post and outlets for characterizing the president as “confused” and for using an “artificially narrow frame” to make it appear as if the president was wandering off from the skydiving demonstration.

“He’s saying congratulations to one of the divers and giving a thumbs up,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a post on social media.

“Beware cheap fakes … and all the bad faith actors who post them,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt also posted.

X later added a community note to the Post’s tweet acknowledging the video had been cropped. A spokesperson for the Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Edited video goes through conservative echo chamber

The video of Biden at the skydiving demonstration appeared to have first been flagged by the Republican National Committee, which posted the uncropped video of Biden giving the parachutists a thumbs-up shortly after the demonstration took place. The New York Post shared the cropped version less than 90 minutes later.

Other right-wing outlets quickly followed suit. Sinclair stations posted stories saying Biden appeared to wander away at the summit. Those stories also resurfaced false claims that the president soiled himself at a D-Day ceremony in France earlier this month.

A Fox & Friends segment Friday morning reported on the incident and the Post’s front page, with a chyron saying the president appeared “confused” at the summit.

Other world leaders who attended the event with Biden, though, pushed back on the idea that he was confused. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was standing just steps away from Biden, said the president “was being very polite and went over to talk to all of (the skydivers) individually.”

“Giorgia was saying don’t worry they’re all coming – we were meant to line up and they were coming to shake our hands,” Sunak said, according to The Telegraph.

Cropped video plays on concerns over Biden’s age

While emerging technologies like artificial intelligence continue to proliferate and create concern about the impact that misinformation will have on voters ahead of November, the video shared by the Post shows that relatively low-tech efforts, like cropping videos to show Biden out of context, can still be powerful tools to reinforce the idea that the 81-year-old president has lost control of his mental faculties.

Every day that Biden is president, he sets a new record as the oldest person to ever hold that office. He would be 86 at the end of a potential second term. And recent events, including special counsel Robert Hur’s report that described the president being portrayed as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” and recent Biden missteps where he appeared to confuse long-dead world leaders with their living contemporaries, have served to reinforce those concerns.

The White House has pushed back on criticism over Biden’s age by pointing toward his packed travel schedule. In just the last two weeks, the president has traveled to France to commemorate D-Day, back to the United States to comfort a son who just became a convicted felon and then embarked on another transatlantic journey to Italy, where he participated in high-stakes discussions about future US support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion. From there he heads straight to California to participate in a star-studded fundraiser.

The rest of this month will see Biden preparing for his critical June 27 debate with former President Donald Trump, who turned 78 on Friday and is also scrutinized for his age.

Biden’s campaign and his family members have said his age and the experience that comes with it are an asset to his role, and not a liability. The campaign has sent first lady Dr. Jill Biden to shore up older voters’ support of the president.

“Joe and that other guy are essentially the same age,” the first lady said at an event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Thursday. “Let’s not be fooled. But what this election is about, it’s about the character of the person leading our country.”

“Joe Biden is a healthy, wise 81-year-old ready and willing to work for you every day to make our future better,” she added. “Joe isn’t one of the most effective presidents of our lives in spite of his age, but because of it.”

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