A manipulated video snippet of US President Joe Biden’s first meeting with new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday circulated widely over the weekend, resurfacing the narrative of a “Sleepy Joe Biden” unable to carry out his presidential duties.
“OMG!! “Sleepy” Joe Biden actually fell asleep during a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister. (I bet you “fact checkers” in the liberal media will say he was ‘in deep thought’ or something),” Republican congressman Blaise Ingoglia of Florida wrote on Facebook. Conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson shared the manipulated video to his 1.1 million Facebook followers, garnering hundreds of comments. The conservative Canadian website The Post Millennial, which has come under fire for spreading disinformation, shared the clip on Twitter.
Republican congresswomen Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado went further and suggested that Biden be removed from office for mental incapacity or should resign. As of today, Greene and Boebert have not acknowledged that the videos are manipulated.
Facebook has flagged Ingoglia and Ferguson’s posts as false information. Twitter has labeled Greene, Boebert and The Post Millennial’s tweets as manipulated media.
In their debunks, PolitiFact and Reuters linked to the full and high-resolution version of the video. There, Biden can be seen moving his fingers during Bennett’s speech; his eyes appear open and he responds immediately after his Israeli counterpart stops speaking.
Outside the US, the low-resolution manipulated clip was published by Russia’s FAN news agency, which is owned by the Putin-friendly Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Internet Research Agency, which US intelligence has called a “troll farm.” The manipulated video was quickly picked up by several prominent Russian state media outlets and TV channels, and extensively shared on social media. It was also aired by Iran’s state broadcaster.
This is not the first time that manipulated content was used to promote the “Sleepy Joe” narrative, first made prominent by Trump in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election. A similar video from September 2020 and an edited photograph from February in the Oval Office were shared widely; both have been debunked. — Yevgeny Kuklychev