House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Monday morning justified the deceptively edited video he shared on Twitter over the weekend, which doctored a quote by progressive activist Ady Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The Republican congressman told Fox & Friends that while the clip shouldn’t have been manipulated the underlying message still stood.
Scalise found himself the target of intense backlash on Sunday after he shared the video accusing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of wanting to defund the police. The clip featured Barkan, who speaks through computer voice assistance, asking Biden at one point: “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding for police?”
The original exchange between Barkan and Biden, however, reveals that the activist never said that, with the Scalise video adding “for police.” Furthermore, the exchange in question was part of a larger conversation about police reform and redirecting some funds and responsibilities from the police to other social services—something Biden noted is markedly different than “defunding the police.”
Barkan blasted the Louisiana lawmaker for putting words in his mouth, calling on him to remove the video immediately. (The clip has already been featured in millions of dollars worth of campaign ads.) With Twitter flagging the video as “manipulated” media, Scalise eventually pulled the clip down, but not before sharing a longer video of Barkan and Biden, and doubling down on his original point.
“Twice in one interview Biden says ‘yes’ & ‘yes absolutely’ to questions about ‘redirecting’ police funding,” Scalise wrote. “Dems & their partners in the media want to blame ‘editing’ to pretend this isn’t exactly what he believes.”
The Republican leader doubled down on Monday during an appearance on the president’s favorite morning show. Co-host Steve Doocy noted that Scalise was “taking some heat” online over the video, adding that he was “accused of manipulating the video” by adding words Barkan absolutely never said.
“What do you have to say about that?” Doocy added.
“Look, it shouldn’t have been edited, but at the same time the comments were always about [defunding the police],” Scalise replied. “In fact, twice in that interview, he asked Joe Biden if he was for redirecting money away from police and in both times Joe Biden said yes, and you saw in that last response, Joe was excited about saying yes that he would redirect money away from police.”
The pro-Trump congressman went on to say that he has since shared the full video of Biden and Barkan, reiterating that it supposedly shows the presidential hopeful excitedly endorsing the defunding of police.
“Redirecting and defunding the police are the same thing,” Scalise insisted.
The full context of the conversation, as previously noted, shows the former vice president explaining that redirecting some funds is not the same as defunding police departments, as he noted that federal funding should be conditioned on law-enforcement departments meeting certain standards and guidelines.