On October 8, President Donald Trump released a video of himself standing on the White House lawn addressing senior citizens vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Just as they had done over the past week since Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, media and Trump critics rushed to claim the video was actually filmed in front of a green screen because Trump is sicker than he appears. The New York Times even published an article promoting the conspiracy theory, which my former Washington Examiner colleague Becket Adams called “a deranged, easily debunked rumor.”
The Times article, written by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman with help from four additional reporters, originally claimed:
In the video, Mr. Trump was shown on the South Lawn of the White House hundreds of feet away from the mansion, but it appeared to be a digital backdrop as leaves blowing in the wind behind him could be seen repeating on a loop. Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, insisted that ‘he was definitely outside.’ Mr. Trump has not appeared before news cameras since his return from Walter Reed on Monday evening.
Two hours later, the paragraph disappeared, according to the website NewsDiffs, which tracks edits made to news articles.
Washington Examiner video editor Siraj Hashmi told Adams that people who know about audio and video understood the video was not fake.
“It’s not a video loop or green screen,” Hashmi said, “it’s from lossy video compression. Basically, each individual frame got a bit distorted, and so the frames sorta bleed together.”
Buzzfeed News thoroughly debunked the conspiracy peddled by the Times and other reporters, which wrote: “The video is real and Trump is indeed standing outside on his own, the White House told BuzzFeed News.”
“Green screen truthers pointed to the way that the trees behind him moved as evidence of some sort of Weekend at Bernie’s shenanigans. Instead of smooth, natural movement, the leaves of the trees appear to briefly stop on occasion as though they were part of a video loop. Suspicious!” the outlet reported. “But video experts told BuzzFeed News that while the trees behind Trump might appear to be part of a video loop, they probably aren’t.”
“Most compression standards employ ‘predicted’ frames that use the content and motion from previous frames to encode the data on subsequent frames,” explained Hany Farid, professor of digital forensics, image analysis, and human perception at the University of California-Berkeley. “This saves quite a bit of file/transfer size because not all of the data has to be encoded. At the same time, these predicted frames tend to be of lower quality because the prediction is not perfect. As such, most compression standards interlace the predicted frames with higher-quality non-predicted frames. This creates occasional perceptual ‘skips’ as frames of varying quality are displayed.”
As I previously wrote, the media spent Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis pushing conspiracy theories and trying to claim that Trump was much sicker than he appeared. Even though people could clearly see Trump walking and talking easily, the media tried to claim that Trump had a severe case of COVID-19. In addition, they painted a regularly prescribed corticosteroid as dangerous or experimental, which it is not.
This wasn’t even the first digital conspiracy theory pushed by the media regarding Trump’s diagnosis. Jon Ostrower, Editor-In-Chief The Air Current, tried to claim two photos of Trump working at Walter Reed were taken 10 minutes apart, suggesting they were staged or fake. Journalist Tim Pool spent the day trying to correct the conspiracy theory, pointing out that the times Ostrower was referring to was not when the photos were taken, but when they were rendered.
“This should be remarkably embarrassing for a member of the media to f*** up Journalists don’t even understand something as basic as compression Nearly 30k rt’s The exif data shows the time when the photo was rendered by the photog,” Pool tweeted.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.