On Monday afternoon, Wonkette's Ken Layne published a heavily-edited video and used it to unfairly convince readers that GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann is a racist.
More specifically, Layne used the doctored clip to claim that Bachmann had asked a Christian music festival audience on August 5 in West Des Moines, Iowa, the following: "Who likes white people?"
This curious -- and racially-charged question -- is an odd one for a presidential contendor to ask, especially considering the political ramifications of doing so. Would a candidate actually take such an idiotic risk? It's not likely, which leads one to the obvious (and now substantiated) conclusion: The video, which was originally posted by Wonkette (and credited to "Wonkette Operative 'Smashaduck'"), was edited to remove the context of Bachmann's remarks.
In initially explaining the video, Layne wrote:
Who likes white people? Uhh, everybody except for black people and brown people and yellow people, we guess? Also, many actual white people don’t much like white people, having read a history book or two. But Michele Bachmann is here to praise Jesus and His Own Special People, even though he was an Arab.
These words are interesting, considering the fact that Bachmann's question had nothing to do with race and everything to do with Christian music. Here's what she actually said: “Who likes wet people?” What the Wonkette video doesn't show is that Bachmann followed up her question with the following:
“That’s right, because we’ve got the God of the winds and the rains, don’t we? We serve a mighty God.”
"Wet" in this instance is the name of a Christian music band (remember, this was a concert). Curiously, upon some negative coverage exposing the fraudulent editing, the video that was placed on Wonkette's site is now set to "private," and cannot be viewed.
But, luckily Mediaite captured the clip (see below). The first segment shows the edited version (where it seems like Bachmann is saying "white people"); the second shows the full context of her words:
From the start, people were skeptical of the video's authenticity. Politico's Ben Smith Tweeted the following in order to set the record straight:
Of course, Wonkette hasn't issued a retraction. But, the video's newfound private nature shows that someone is less than pleased that the truth came out.
Regardless of political affiliation, heavily-edited videos that seek to exploit contentious issues in an effort to malign candidates are truly counterproductive to the democratic process. While it is unclear whether Layne knew the clip was edited prior to publishing it, Wonkette could certainly be doing more to clarify and retract.
Update: The blogger -- Robert Stacy McCain -- who initially covered the Bachmann event has posted an explanation, from his view, regarding what happened to the original video. He has received an apology from the individual who purposefully swiped the video to make Bachmann look racist.