Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Whip, was caught doctoring a video of a disabled man with Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS) in an attack that seems purely an attempt at political exploitation.
Rebecca Cokley from the Campaign for American Progress (CAP) was the one who discovered the “deep fake” in which Scalise appeared to apply a computerized voice over what Ady Barkan actually said. Barkan is a progressive activist who led the “Fed Up” campaign and has become a courageous healthcare advocate.
“This is dangerous and not ok,” tweeted Cokley, before admonishing the GOP for such a move.
Steve Scalise pulled a #deepfake by applying a computerized voice over what Ady actually said.
This is dangerous and not ok.
— Rebecca Cokley (@RebeccaCokley) August 30, 2020
As the Washington Post‘s Dave Weigle pointed out, Barkan uses a voice assistance device to speak. He commented about Vice President Joe Biden’s comments about “re-directing” public safety funding to social workers and mental health experts, something police have actually requested because it typically isn’t crime-related and they aren’t trained to handle such mental health crises.
.@SteveScalise doctors video from @AdyBarkan for political exploitation. He should consider resigning. Please follow @RebeccaCokley on this and all things related to the disability community. https://t.co/efHkGVdJg3 https://t.co/jElvOp4uMl
— Jesse Lee (@JesseCharlesLee) August 30, 2020
The real line Barkan said was, “But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” Scalise changed the question: “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the police funding?
Republicans have desperately tried to make up things that Biden has said or supports or mischaracterized what he has said about issues facing people of color and policing. It seems Scalise is perpetuating that effort by creating his own “deep fake” videos.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later called on Scalise to take down the doctored video:
Now, he’s trying to steal Ady’s words by lying.
Congressman Scalise must take his doctored video down and apologize immediately. https://t.co/sWlufPsazf
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 30, 2020
See the real conversation between Biden and Barkan below: