Last Updated on September 16, 2022
NBC News falsely claimed that footage of John Fetterman struggling to speak during a recent rally was “doctored” and urged social media companies to censor. Fetterman, who suffered a stroke earlier this year, has struggled with public speaking while recovering, something the senate hopeful has himself admitted to. The outlet flagged videos of Fetterman speaking to Twitter and TikTok, baselessly claiming that they were in violation of their political misinformation policies. TikTok complied and removed the videos.
NBC News took issue with highlight reels of a recent Montgomery County rally in which Fetterman struggled through parts of his speech. The outlet accused one prominent conservative social media account of deceptively editing video of speeches to “create the perception that what he was saying was nonsensical.”
In case you were wondering why John Fetterman’s handlers won’t let him debate… pic.twitter.com/YXTkoweNBz
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 12, 2022
The report accused social media platforms of ignoring their own policies “against political misinformation” in allowing the videos to stay up.
NBC News Deputy Editor of technology Benjamin Goggin wrote, “Deceptively edited videos that have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter and TikTok exaggerate the speech issues that have plagued John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, after he had a stroke in May.”
Explaining the alleged edits, Goggin claimed they consisted of “cutting out the sound of the audience to make it appear as if he had abruptly stopped speaking (some of the stops occurred when he was pausing during moments of applause and crowd reaction, according to unedited videos seen by NBC News).”
The NBC News reporter singled out popular digital strategist Greg Price, whose supercut of Fetterman’s speech had been 600,000 times when the report was published.
Goggin claimed that the videos violate Twitter and TikTok’s policies “against political misinformation,” and the outlet flagged these videos for the platforms itself. TikTok ultimately removed the videos from its platform.
“So NBC News decided to accuse me of doctoring videos of John Fetterman that I posted. (I didn’t doctor anything),” Price wrote in a tweet. “They also reached out to Twitter to try and get them censored.”
So NBC News decided to accuse me of doctoring videos of John Fetterman that I posted. (I didn't doctor anything)
They also reached out to Twitter to try and get them censored.
And the bastards didn't even include my full comment! pic.twitter.com/Sq1LtxNa1R
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 14, 2022
“Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment. TikTok removed the videos that NBC News flagged to it, citing its ‘integrity and authenticity’ policy, which includes rules about misinformation,” Goggin reported.
Fetterman himself has admitted that he sometimes struggles with speaking while recovering from his stroke. “As I recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I look forward to continuing to meet with the people of Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said when he declined a debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz last month.
Fetterman’s team dodged debate challenges from the Oz campaign for weeks, though Fetterman has finally agreed to a debate in late October, deep into Pennsylvania’s early voting period.