John Fetterman’s speech fuels controversy amid ‘tampered video’ claims
Videos of Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman have been shared on social media, prompting derogatory remarks from his critics about his speaking abilities.
Some critics have cited the videos as examples of why the Democrat is making a bad candidate as he contests a bitter U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.
However, Fetterman’s supporters argued that these videos were doctored and did not accurately depict scenes of his rallies. Newsweek Fact Check looked at both sides of the story.
Last week, Fetterman promised to debate Oz as the pair stepped up their attacks on each other ahead of the November election.
Videos of Fetterman speaking at a public appearance he made Sunday in Blue Bell, Pa., went viral on Twitter.
Some of the videos were posted by Greg Price, senior digital strategist for X Strategies, a conservative political advisory agency.
The footage appears to show the contestant jumping from point to point erratically. They also seem to show Fetterman taking long pauses and speaking in a particular way.
One video has been viewed more than 800,000 times since it was posted on Wednesday, while another has been viewed more than 150,000 times since it was posted on Monday.
Price captioned one of the videos: “In case you’re wondering why John Fetterman’s handlers won’t let him debate.
He captioned the other: “Whatever you do, don’t watch or retweet this video that NBC News tried to censor on Twitter.”
Earlier this year in May, Fetterman suffered a stroke which raised doubts over whether he would be fit to continue in the primary contest.
Since the stroke, Fetterman’s team has addressed those concerns and insisted that she continue her campaign.
Talk to PoliticsFetterman said: “We are absolutely going to debate Dr Oz, and it was really always our intention to do so.
“This [has] it was just never about solving some of the lingering issues with stroke, auditory processing, and we’re going to be able to fix that.”
During his Sunday speech, Fetterman joked about the difficulties he has speaking after his stroke.
He admitted that he could sometimes “put two words together” during his speeches. He also called himself “John Fetterwoman”, in an apparent nod to “Women for Fetterman” activists.
The videos shared by Price on Twitter appear to have undergone some minor edits to make it look like Fetterman is quickly changing the subject. This is evident from the longer, unedited videos of his speech.
However, throughout his speech, Fetterman stuttered and stumbled over his words.
The edited videos also appear to show oddly long pauses in his speech. But the unedited video shows the Democratic nominee waiting for the applause to die down and the crowd to quiet down.
The emphasis in Fetterman’s speech on certain words also drew positive reactions from the crowd, including laughter and cheers, which were deceptively deleted in the viral videos.
While this doesn’t necessarily amount to being “tampered with” as the footage hasn’t been digitally altered, it lends some credence to claims that the videos have been manipulated for effect.
Price has since addressed the claims in a series of tweets, as well as a number of media appearances, saying the video is a “supercut” of speech, which is common in politics.
He claimed to have taken one of the videos from TikTok, suggesting that the edits (including the removal of crowd sounds) had been made by someone else.
He also insisted that another video he shared was simply pasted over clips from the rally, and nothing was “tampered with”. He then accused NBC News of trying to “censor” him and called the reporter accusing him of tampering with the videos “liberal junk.”
It’s also true, as Price claims, that Fetterman clearly has some speech complications, likely due to his condition.
But while the edited versions of the videos don’t directly change the content of Fetterman’s speech, the manner in which he speaks and the context are poorly presented as a result of the edits.
This in part helps promote the narrative of his political opponents that he is unfit to speak in public – and by extension for public office – as a result of the stroke he suffered.
A spokesperson for Fetterman, Joe Calvello, spoke earlier this week to BNC News and responded to edited videos.
“It’s quite sad and frankly desperate that Dr Oz’s MAGA allies are deceptively editing videos of John speaking in order to mock him while he recovers from a stroke.”
Newsweek contacted John Fetterman and Greg Price for comment.