Joe Biden: How his opponents are campaigning with misleading videos

Would US President Joe Biden be fit enough for a second term despite his advanced age? Many Americans doubt this – and Republicans and their supporters are fuelling the concerns.

US presidents are on average 55 years old when they take over the reins of government. The youngest president to date, Theodore Roosevelt, was only 42 when he succeeded his murdered predecessor William McKinley in 1901. If re-elected, Joe Biden would be 82 – almost twice as old as Roosevelt. Many Americans see this as a major problem.

According to a survey conducted by the New York Times and Siena College in early March, 73 percent of all registered voters in the USA believe that Biden is too old to be an effective president. Germans also have serious doubts about the 81-year-old’s fitness. 68 percent think he is too old to operate the superpower’s levers for another four years, according to a Forsa survey commissioned by the star in February.

Republicans dissect every Biden appearance

For the Republicans and Donald Trump, the concerns of the electorate are a godsend. Biden’s opponents in the presidential race dissect every appearance of the incumbent and use every opportunity to portray the Democrat as a senile old man. And the grandfather of seven provides them with plenty of opportunities: his stiff gait alone, which even his personal doctor confirms in every published health check, makes the viewer want to take him by the hand so that he doesn’t fall. But Biden not only moves sluggishly, he also sometimes seems to think sluggishly. Time and again, he slips up during appearances, doesn’t finish sentences or stumbles over complicated words – and not just because he grew up with a stuttering problem.

Biden also has problems with the names and nationalities of foreign heads of state and government: for example, he recently made French President Emmanuel Macron into the name of his predecessor, François Mitterrand. When the Americans began airborne food deliveries to the Gaza Strip in the spring, Biden accidentally announced in the White House that the food packages would be dropped over Ukraine.

But concerns about the physical and mental state of the world’s most powerful man are fueled not only by Biden’s real missteps and blunders, but also by misleading videos of his appearances that Donald Trump, his Republican Party, ultra-conservative media and right-wing influencers are circulating online as supposed evidence that Biden is rambling, freezing or trying to sit in a chair that isn’t there.

Shortened video makes Biden appear disoriented

A few days ago, the New York Post and an official Republican Internet account published a video of Biden at the G7 summit in Italy, which makes it appear as if the US president was wandering disoriented away from the other heads of state and government into nothingness during a skydiving demonstration. Trump also made fun of the clip. In reality, however, it is edited footage. If you watch the full video, it becomes clear that Biden is simply turning to other skydivers and interacting with them.

Biden moved to wish the parachutists good luck with a gesture, presidential spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre tried to capture the images that had already been sent out into the world. “This has been thoroughly checked (…), including by conservative media.” NBC also investigated the matter and posted its own recording from a different angle online, showing Biden communicating with the soldiers just a few meters away.

A video also comes from the G7 summit in which Biden and Macron shake hands and the US president then reaches behind him and bends his knees to sit down. “Biden just tried to sit on a chair that doesn’t exist,” says a clip posted on Instagram. The social network has now marked the post as “Misinformation. Checked by independent fact checkers,” because it has also been shortened. As the full video of the event shows, there is indeed a chair behind Biden, which he sits on.

Another video circulated by Republicans and right-wing media purports to show Biden in a state of mental confusion. The close-up shows the president standing silently during a concert at the White House while world leaders dance nearby. In fact, Biden has long said that he is not a good dancer and barely danced even at his inaugural ball in 2021. “The president stood there listening to the music, but he didn’t dance,” Jean-Pierre clarified. “I didn’t know that not dancing was a health issue.”

Trump camp pounces on Biden appearance in Los Angeles

The right-wing propaganda machine also struck after a Biden appearance in Los Angeles last weekend: footage from the end of the event shows the president and his predecessor Barack Obama waving to their supporters as they cheered them with a standing ovation. Biden then looks into the audience for a moment before Obama takes him by the arm to signal that it is time to leave the stage.

The clip then appeared on a Republican social media account with the claim that Biden “froze on stage before Obama grabbed his arm and led him off the stage.” The New York Post even made a front-page story out of it, writing that Biden was “frozen until former President Barack Obama grabbed his wrist and led him off the stage.” Several arch-conservative news outlets even claimed that Biden had the “appearance of dementia.” On Fox News, various anchors announced that the incumbent was “frozen in a geriatric trance,” “demented,” suffering from “serious mental decline,” and that the White House is “forcing Democrats to lie about Biden’s fitness.”

According to NBC, several participants at the event stated that they could not understand such an interpretation.

Jean-Pierre called the footage “cheap fakes” and interpreted it as a sign of “how desperate the Republicans are.” Otherwise, the Democrats and the White House are pretty helpless in the face of the spread of misleading videos. By aggressively checking the facts, by quickly releasing more complete clips with appropriate context, and by denouncing media that spread such videos, they are trying to at least limit the damage.

“We can’t stop them from doing this. What we can do is fight like hell to do fact-checking and get those fact-checks out there,” NBC quoted a member of Biden’s campaign team as saying. “Is that potentially getting through to the independent voters? Yes, and that’s what we’re protecting and fighting against.”

Democrats post clips of Trump blunders

Part of the fight is that the Biden camp is striking back with the same weapons and releasing similar videos of Trump. After all, the 78-year-old has his own history of blunders, slip-ups and memory lapses. Last weekend, for example, Trump challenged Biden to take a cognitive test and then boasted about his own test results from his time in the White House. However, he did not even know the correct name of the doctor who conducted the test and repeatedly called Representative Ronny Jackson, who was the White House physician at the time, Ronny Johnson. The progressive news network MeidasTouch has now released a video that shows three full minutes of Trump confusing places and names during his presidency and afterward.

The issue of Biden’s age is now also affecting his wife Jill. At an event for seniors a few days ago in Phoenix, she took up the issue head-on and made it clear: “Joe and the other guy are basically the same age, so don’t be fooled.”

Sources: NBC,Fox News, Statista, “New York Times”, Instagram, Meidas Touch“Huffington Post”