Did the RNC Tamper With Supreme Court Audio for an Anti Obamacare Ad?

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With the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul now in the hands of the Supreme Court, a new ad from the Republican National Committee manipulates the audio from this week’s hearings, exaggerating Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s stammering during his opening defense of the law’s individual mandate.

The 36-second RNC ad, released online Wednesday, features audio of Verilli stuttering, coughing, sipping water twice and pausing for nearly 20 seconds. As he speaks, the ad flashes the words, “ObamaCare: It’s a tough sell.”

The problem is that the audio used has been edited to make Verrilli sound worse than he actually did.

According to Bloomberg News, “A review of a transcript and recordings of those moments shows that Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period and completed his thought — rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the edited version”:

While Verrilli paused once to drink water during the opening moments of his presentation, he stopped talking for only a few seconds before continuing with his argument. In the RNC ad, he pauses for about 20 seconds, coughs, sips water and stutters.

In the RNC’s transcript of its ad, it quotes Verrilli as follows: “For more than 80 percent of Americans, the ah insurance system does provide effective access [pause]. Excuse me. Ah [cough] it ah be-be because the ah the ah the [pause]. Excuse me.”

In the actual proceedings, Verrilli finished his thought. “For more than 80 percent of Americans, the, ah, insurance system does provide effective access,” Verrilli says, pausing briefly and saying, “Excuse me. But for more than 40 million who do not have access to health insurance, either through their employer or through government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, the system does not work.”

Hear the difference for yourself. The RNC’s ad is below, and beneath that is the opening portion of Tuesday’s arguments:

RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told Bloomberg the video was a “mash-up,” combining several of Verrilli’s separate pauses and stutters during the first two minutes of his argument.

“Are there multiple clips in that video? Yes,” Spicer said. “The point was that he continually had to stop because he was having trouble making the case for why Obamacare was valid.”

“Our goal was to make the point of what a hard sell Obamacare is,” Spicer told the Associated Press.

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