When even The Washington Post’s fact-checker is chiding Jimmy Kimmel for “inventing a story of malfeasance” about Vice President Mike Pence, it’s fair to say the situation is pretty bad.
The “invention,” in this case, involved a video which was deceptively edited to make it appear as if Pence wanted to move empty boxes of personal protective equipment for a photo op.
It was obviously a joke. The clip that was shared had obviously been deceptively edited.
Nobody seemed to realize it.
Things began when Kimmel — always a good start — did a bit involving Pence’s visit to Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday.
“Since it was going so well and also because he didn’t realize he had a mic on, Magic Mike decided to keep it going,” Kimmel said at the top of his show. “Listen in closely here.”
When Pence is told the remaining boxes are empty, he says “Well, can I carry the empty ones? Just for the camera?”
“Mike Pence pretending to carry a big box of PPEs into a hospital is the perfect metaphor for who he is and what he’s doing: a big box of nothing, delivering another box of nothing,” Kimmel said.
Ah, Jimmy, you card you. Remember the old stupid schoolyard joke about something being “so funny I forgot to laugh”? Without Jimmy’s audience there, being told to laugh so that I know when to laugh, I’m kind of having a hard time myself.
Democratic strategist Matt McDermott posted a 40-second snippet from Kimmel’s bit and things took off from there. It was retweeted by a whole bevy of people, a list of whom we’ll get to in a second.
Mike Pence caught on hot mic delivering empty boxes of PPE for a PR stunt. pic.twitter.com/IduvGhiPwj
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) May 8, 2020
Here’s a problem: The clip was deceptively edited.
The volume on the Kimmel clip may be difficult to hear, but there’s definitely laughter in the background. Also, it cuts off a part of a line; after someone says “absolutely” on Kimmel’s video, they then quip, “they’re a lot easier.”
Then, Pence can be seen shutting the van doors — proof he had no intention of carrying the empty boxes for a photo op.
Here’s an unedited version of @VP Pence delivering PPE to Woodbine Rehab Center. The clip from @JimmyKimmel and sent viral by @mattmfm & others is quite deceptive. Pence is clearly joking when he talks about empty boxes for the camera, & shuts the van doors right after the quip. pic.twitter.com/HyV8iBiljS
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) May 8, 2020
“With so many well-reported articles about the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, why would anyone resort to inventing a story of malfeasance?” he began his Friday fact check of Kimmel’s video.
“Kimmel is a comedian, but he still should be careful about perpetuating a narrative that the media peddles ‘fake news.’ This was certainly a phony tale, and it can undercut accurate and dogged reporting by real reporters.”
Kimmel would later “apologize.”
it would appear that @vp was joking about carrying empty boxes for a staged publicity stunt. The full video reveals that he was carrying full boxes for a staged publicity stunt. My apologies. I know how dearly this administration values truth. https://t.co/hI9cO4lxcX
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 8, 2020
“[I]t would appear that @vp was joking about carrying empty boxes for a staged publicity stunt,” Kimmel tweeted Friday.
“The full video reveals that he was carrying full boxes for a staged publicity stunt. My apologies. I know how dearly this administration values truth.”
Tee hee. As for McDermott’s repost of Kimmel’s video, while Twitter flagged it as “Manipulated media,” it remained up as of Saturday morning. So much for big tech coming to the rescue
Scarborough would delete his tweet, and he, too, would “apologize.”
I guess Twitter is a full time job. I apologize to Mike Pence for retweeting a tweet that had been disproved. I’m deleting now.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) May 8, 2020
You know, if you make a mistake, you can just say you’re sorry. Mitchell did.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) May 8, 2020
That’s actually what you should do.
But as of Saturday morning, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.’s retweet of the video was still up, without any sort of correction appended to his Twitter feed or as a comment to the video itself.
And here was former Bill Clinton adviser James Carville continuing to be a caricature of himself in a tweet that was also still up and uncorrected as of Saturday morning:
Andrew Bates, Joe Biden’s director of rapid response, deleted his tweet which said, “This is a metaphor for so much of their botched response,” according to The Hill.
This is a metaphor for something else, which is how much the media is willing to self-own when it comes to members of the Trump administration.
This is doubly true for Pence, who comes in for regular ridicule by the media not just for his political viewpoints and affiliations but also for his faith. Remember, when all else fails, Christianity is hilarious. This is what makes him so hateable to them.
Kimmel’s snarky apology isn’t the correct tone here, either.
Say what you will about Kessler playing the world’s tiniest violin for how Kimmel “undercut accurate and dogged reporting by real reporters” with his clip, but comedy is supposed to be about speaking truth to power among the left. It’s a hat that late-night hosts will proudly wear when it suits them and discard at moments like this when they’re just “making jokes.”
This wasn’t a joke and it wasn’t “fake news” in quotation marks. It was just straight-up fake news.
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