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Video altered to suggest Biden fell asleep in interview

September 1, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sleeping when he is supposed to be on air for a live morning television interview. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This video alters a news clip from 2011, adding snoring sound effects and video in which Biden casts his eyes downward during a town hall with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Biden did not fall asleep during a TV interview.

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THE FACTS: The 30-second video started with a news anchor introducing a guest appearing live from New York, then cut to Biden with his eyes closed. Snoring sounds could be heard in the background.

A chyron seemed to indicate Joe Biden was being interviewed on “THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ELECTION.” The anchor laughed and tried to get her guest’s attention, then gave up.

“He’s meditating,” she said. “He’s taking a little nap.”

The video has circulated widely on social media in recent days, racking up thousands of shares and hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

It was shared by public figures including Trump communications adviser Dan Scavino, whose Sunday tweet was labeled “manipulated media” by the social media site.

However, this video has been altered. Instead of showing one interview between a local news anchor and Biden, it deceptively mashes together two separate videos: a 2011 clip from a Bakersfield, California, TV station, and a 2020 clip of Biden at a town hall with Clinton.

In the original 2011 interview, the local station KBAK-TV attempted to interview the singer Harry Belafonte, but he had his eyes closed and was not responsive. Belafonte was meditating before the interview and his earpiece malfunctioned, his publicist told reporters at the time.

The Biden clips were pulled from an April 2020 town hall in which Biden appeared to turn his eyes downward for about 15 seconds as Clinton discussed the effects of COVID-19 on women. He then lifted his gaze.

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Biden made no snoring sounds in the original video; those were added to the distorted video that is circulating on social media.

A social media user identified as Damon Imani confirmed to The Associated Press that he created the altered video. The video posted on his YouTube account on Saturday has amassed more than 121,000 views. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536