By Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT
A satirical video using “deepfake” technology to show US President Donald Trump as coming to work for RT after the November election was taken very seriously by ‘Russiagate’ peddlers at the Daily Beast and the Lincoln Project.
In a pearl-clutching piece written by a journalist based in Scotland, the Beast called the ad – which features an actor made up to look like the president uttering actual Trump soundbites taken out of context – “bizarre and, frankly, deeply disturbing.” The author, Jamie Ross, argued its message was “to not-so-subtly suggest that Putin is Trump’s personal hero and that the US president is in the pocket of the Kremlin.”
A bizarre and disturbing ad from the state-controlled RT network shows a deep-faked President Trump joining the channel as an anchor. “They’re very nice. I make a lot of money with them. They pay me millions and hundreds of millions,” the character says. https://t.co/3h6OLO4FfH
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) September 23, 2020
That’s not the only bit of mind-reading Ross indulges in, either, as he opens the piece by declaring, “We know that Vladimir Putin takes his lifelong campaign to disrupt American democracy and destroy the very foundations of Western civilization extremely seriously.”
It’s a bit rich for the outlet that purports to ‘know’ this, and has spent the past four years furiously insisting that Trump is Putin’s puppet, to now take umbrage at RT supposedly saying so. It’s even richer when the “Lincoln Project” – a group of disgruntled Republican campaign consultants, whom Trump made unemployable, now in the service of Joe Biden and the DNC – takes the RT video literally.
What neither the Beast nor the “Lincolns” seem to have realized is that the joke was entirely on them. The video doesn’t mock Trump as much as the US media and activists – like them – who have obsessed for the past four years over the very claim it lampoons, that the former real-estate mogul-turned-president was somehow an “agent” of Russia that seeks no less than to “disrupt American democracy and destroy… Western civilization” (see Ross, above).
Mind you, the Daily Beast is the same outlet that on Wednesday promoted its exclusive interview with the director of ‘The Comey Rule,’ a miniseries promoting the disgraced former FBI director’s version of history, in which he’s of course a hero. Incidentally, RT’s “deepfake” Trump doesn’t look any worse than what Showtime makeup artists did with Brendan Gleeson there.
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Ross worries about “what a deep-faked video of Joe Biden saying something unconscionable could be if it spread like wildfire on Facebook before any kind of correction could be heard.” But nobody’s made deepfakes of Biden because they don’t need to. He provides plenty of meme fodder with his actual unscripted statements, only for the Beast to leap to his defense.
Ross himself actually did so Wednesday, when he described a Republican report on the foreign misadventures of Biden’s son Hunter as “a politically motivated… hatchet job.”
If writers and editors at the Beast, or their Project Lincoln pals, actually paid attention to the RT video, they’d have noticed the repeated parody disclaimers. That they didn’t, suggests they see only what they want to see.
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This is not the first time RT baited the Russia-haters with satirical clips. Back in 2015, the network celebrated its 10th anniversary by poking fun at President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, showing them as two grumpy retirees annoyed by President Edward Snowden. Another video, which featured Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan – and even Putin himself at the end – poked fun at Western stereotypes about RT and Russia.
The network’s response to accusations of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 elections by the various Beasts in the US was to create a line of merchandise making fun of it. There’s a kiosk at the Moscow airport, right next to the gates for US-bound flights, that sells flip-flops that leave a “Russian trail” in the sand. While not everyone may get the joke, it’s nuts to suggest it amounts to admission of election meddling.
Same with the Trump “deepfake,” which isn’t about Trump being a puppet of Putin – but about watching the reactions of people who’ve been arguing that for the past four years, to explain how Hillary Clinton lost the election they gave her a 99 percent chance of winning. And that is, frankly, priceless.
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