April 17, 2020

PolitiFact and MediaWise are teaming up to debunk misinformation about the coronavirus crisis. To have Coronavirus Facts delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.

Happy Friday. Here is another Ad Watch about a Donald Trump commercial to kick off another weekend in quarantine.

A campaign ad for Trump tells Americans that Joe Biden sided with China at Americans’ expense during the coronavirus pandemic, portraying the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as both aloof and self-interested during a crisis.

The ad weaves a misleading narrative by splicing video and audio and cutting out significant context. Missing from the highlight reel is Trump’s repeated praise for China’s COVID-19 response and Biden saying China shouldn’t be trusted blindly.

“I have spoken to President Xi (Jinping), and they’re working very hard. And if you know anything about him, I think he’ll be in pretty good shape,” Trump said Feb. 25.

Biden a day later said China should be scrutinized.

“What I would do were I president now, I would not be taking China’s word for it,” said Biden during a Feb. 26 CNN town hall. “I’d insist that China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it’s from, how far along it is. Because that is not happening now.”

Trump’s campaign did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment.

Here’s PolitiFact’s guide to the misleading and false elements of the one-minute ad titled, “Biden stands up for China.”

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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  • **The ad weaves a misleading narrative by splicing video and audio and cutting out significant context. Missing from the highlight reel is Trump’s repeated praise for China’s COVID-19 response and Biden saying China shouldn’t be trusted blindly.**

    Where do fact checkers get this odd idea that political advertisements are obligated to present a balanced case? Fact checkers themselves have a tough time doing that, and this article even contains an example.

    It compares Trump praising China’s response to the coronavirus (“they’re working very hard”) and contrasts that with Biden saying we should not blindly trust China.

    The Poynter article doesn’t mention the Washington Post report that Trump praised China out of concern China would not cooperate if its behavior was publicly criticized.

    It’s understood that advocacy literature carries no obligation to argue against its own case. Fact checkers should recognize that ads carry the same license and do something about their glass houses.

    It’s okay to point out how an advocacy ad leaves a misleading impression, but that comes off better minus the hypocrisy.

    https(colon)//www(dot)washingtonpost(dot)com/politics/trumps-soft-touch-with-chinas-xi-worries-advisers-who-say-more-is-needed-to-combat-coronavirus-outbreak/2020/02/16/93de385a-5019-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story(dot)html