“What? That Horrible Nancy Pelosi Kept Ripping Up The President’s Speech Again And Again?”

The video above was released by the Trump campaign, and tweeted out by the President. It made effective, if predictable, use of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inexcusable stunt of symbolically ripping up the President’s State of the Union text at the conclusion of his address.

Immediately upon the ad’s release, the Speaker’s office demanded that Twitter and Facebook take it down. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted, “The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.” But a Facebook spokesman replied on Twitter, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?”

Hammill indignantly responded,  “What planet are you living on? This is deceptively altered. Take it down.” Facebook would not.  “I can confirm for you that the video doesn’t violate our policies,” said representative Andy Stone, pointing out that what Facebook called “unacceptable altered video” were those edited to make it appear that a person said something they didn’t say, or did something they didn’t do.

Ugh. The video was edited to make it appear ( though not fooling anyone with an IQ above freezing) that Pelosi ripped up the speech while the President’s various human interest salutes were unfolding. That’s something she didn’t do.

“I think they have a history here of promoting and making money off of content that is intentionally false,” Hammill said, in condemning the decision.

Ugh again. Satire is “false.”Hyperbole is “false.” Metaphors are “false.” Opinions can be “false.” Advertising is often “false,” if one’s idea of “true” is excessively literal.  The only way the ad could legitimately be called “false” is if symbolism and metaphor are alien to the culture, and except for those Americans who are cognitively challenged, they obviously are not.

Twitter also refused to take down the video. That platform has a new set of policies regarding manipulated media that it  announced last week.The new rule:  “You may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm. In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand the media’s authenticity and to provide additional context.”

Twitter explained that it would henceforth examine videos to determine “whether the content has been substantially edited in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing or framing” as well as looking at “any visual or auditory information (such as new video frames, overdubbed audio or modified subtitles) that has been added or removed.”

That policy goes into effect on March 5, however, so Twitter told Pelosi’s office that under current rules, the video violated no standards. The company would not speculate on its decision after the new rules went into effect.

The episode nicely illustrates how it is dangerous to give social media platforms ethical leave to censor political content. The responsibility for assessing whether political content is “false” or not must rest with the individual who sees or hears it, because the staffs of these social media companies have proven repeatedly that they cannot be entrusted with policing speech.

Twitter’s policy, based on “harm,” is just as subjective and ripe for abuse as Facebook’s. What is “harm?” Any time a person is misled or misinformed, that’s harm, even if the reason the individual was misinformed is because he or she is a gullible, ignorant fool. A dummy so misled may spread the misconception to a friend, and she tells two friends, and they tell two friends…as the old TV commercial goes. The Twitter policy, however, aggressively enforced, reduces acceptable speech to the blandest standard imaginable, and sacrifices wit, irony, and nuance for literalism as the sole variety of “truth.”

The attempt by Pelosi to stifle legitimate criticism is also ominous, and, once again, a marker of her party’s increasing hostility to free speech.The Speaker asked for the video’s negative interpretation of her disrespectful stunt when she did it. Isn’t tearing up the entire text of a speech the same as symbolically rejecting everything in it? Certainly that is a justifiable case to make, and the Trump campaign’s video makes it.  If Pelosi wasn’t prepared to weather that obvious line of attack, she shouldn’t have torn up the speech.  Pelosi wants to be able to perform her own bit of political theater and then to prevent her adversary from returning fire.

There were also, naturally, “factchecks” revealing the shocking secret that Pelosi didn’t really keep tearing the same document over and over with the identical expression on her face. The ignorant, naive, badly educated, gullible and dimwitted are indeed sadly handicapped in a free society. Both parties try to exploit them, but the familiar nostrum still applies, much as politicians like Pelosi, and, when the show is on the other foot, President Trump, would prefer. The remedy for controversial is more expression (and smarter citizens), not less.


Twitter link (to post on Facebook): https://twitter.com/CaptCompliance/status/1226863632945942530

63 thoughts on ““What? That Horrible Nancy Pelosi Kept Ripping Up The President’s Speech Again And Again?”

  1. The anti-Pelosi video is doing the same kind of intentionally misleading of cherry picked things that the Democrats, and Pelosi herself, have been doing for over three years to misrepresent those they oppose. Pelosi is a hypocrite.

      • The biggest fear of bullies and abusers is that one day their own tactics will be turned against them and they will be at the mercy of those who have no reason to show them any. If you twist somebody’s testicles, don’t be surprised, and he later gets the opportunity to step on yours, don’t be surprised if he takes it.

      • Jack wrote, “I don’t think the video is unethical in any way.”

        When you wrote that I thought to myself what the heck did I miss. Well I figured it out.

        I had heard about the video but this morning is the first time I saw the video and I was completely blind to something. I just now noticed which I really, honestly, truthfully hadn’t noticed before was the words above and below the video. During the entire video the words…


        … were above the inset video and below the inset video there were specific references to the segment of the speech that was being replayed in the video. I had blocked out the words above and below like they were not actually part of the video as a whole and only paid attention to the inset video. This is a case of my own tendency to focus so intently on something using tunnel vision that is affected how I perceived something; I’m going to have to pay better attention to that unintended failure on my part.

        The words above the video really do make all the difference in the world to my overall evaluation of the video and I really wish I had noticed and and paid attention to them before. The video alone, which is what I had been focusing all my attention to, I felt was misleading in regards to the timeline; however, once I noticed the words the the timeline became irrelevant.

        Jack wrote, “I don’t think the video is unethical in any way.”

        I now completely agree.

            • You said it was “intentionally misleading”. I would presume you’d classify such conduct as “unethical”.

              The video without the banner lines is still not intentionally misleading…nor unethical in other ways than that.

              • Michael West wrote, “You said it was “intentionally misleading”. I would presume you’d classify such conduct as “unethical”.”

                Kinda depends. The kind of misleading things that I would immediately consider unethical are intentional misrepresentations/lies like the Democrats and the media did to Alan Dershowitz’s arguments, like the Democrats and the media continue to do with Trump’s statement about Article II of the Constitution. This particular one was borderline for me until I noticed the text above the inset video, that’s why I used the word misleading instead of unethical.

                This all makes since to me in my “special” head. 😉

                    • No, I’m genuinely curious, your correction is irrelevant to this. You stated, and then doubled down the importance of not seeing the “banner” when you stated that the video was “intentionally misleading”.

                      So let’s pretend the video never had the banner. I assert that even then it isn’t unethical. You assert that it is “intentionally misleading”, which by all accounts would be unethical.

                      How would the video be intentionally misleading even without the banner?

                    • No, I didn’t miss anything.

                      Here’s your words:

                      “The video alone, which is what I had been focusing all my attention to, I felt was misleading in regards to the timeline; however, once I noticed the words the the timeline became irrelevant.”

                      So again, without the banners being visible, you believe the video is, in your words again, “intentionally misleading”.

                      You can either say you misspoke or you can explain how the video, without the banners, is “intentionally misleading”.

                      I posit that it is not.

    • No. The ad is not unethical in any way – in fact, it is brutally honest. As Jack just pointed out, if you tear up the speech and declare that it was “dirty,” then you are rejecting the entire speech – every last bit of it, from the beginning to the end. Trump pointing out what Pelosi (and her cadre) rejected is effective and persuasive. it is saying, “You, The Undecided, this is what you get in return. Is that what you really want?” Pelosi is pissed because she allowed herself to get backed into a corner, just like the Impeachment Charade, and now has to suffer the consequences of her petulance. Tough luck, that.


    • The video isn’t remotely unethical.

      She DID shred a document that DID extol all the very things Trump promoted…including all the human interest stories and all the stories of minorities advancing in this country.

      All the video does is summarize the attitude displayed by Pelosi.

  2. As someone who promotes ethical marketing, it is important to be transparent, including that an act was not literally repeated issue by issue, but done once to symbolically disrespect its entire content. This ad is hyperbolic and dances on the edge of being unethical for those who did not witness the act of tearing up the speech just once in real time. Should people be able to figure this out? Yes. But that’s not the ethical problem. Misrepresentation is.

    • You can’t call this misrepresentation. That’s not its intent, and the fact that the same sequence with Pelosi is repeated should make the intent obvious. If the audience was 10 year olds, then it would be misrepresentation. Was it it misrepresentation suggesting that the only things in the SOTU were guest introductions? Why not?

      • The tearing of the speech was also broadcast everywhere, repeatedly, as another triumphant slap in the face towards the President. You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed it.

      • “If the audience was 10 year olds, then it would be misrepresentation.”

        The audience is undecided voters. I submit that, in this election cycle, anyone who is still undecided is cognitively inferior to the average 10-year-old. The contrast between Trump and what the Democratic party has become couldn’t be clearer.

    • Disagree. It definitely misrepresents the frequency and timing of Speaker Pelosi’s actions. It does represent her likely intent, but that cannot be proven.

      • Backwards. It definitely does not represent her intent, which was to insult Trump and the speech in general, not its specifics…but because it was so crude, it DID insult those honored. Who did it mislead? If a documentary concentrates on Hitler and the Holocaust: does that mislead someone into believing that there was the little matter of WWII? If so, whose fault is that?

      • Wrong. It clearly demonstrates her rejection of everything Trump’s SOTU speech stated. Nobody with half a brain or an ounce of awareness would think she tore the speech up after each point. Yet, demonstrating her petulance and infantile behavior by splicing the Dramatic Tearing after each high point made by the President is brilliant. Oops. You made your bed, Rep. Pelosi, now lie in it.


      • I will agree that it is not unethical, but for different reasons.

        Repetition is a good marketing technique.

        It would not surprise me in the least if there have been campaign ads that have:

        1) John Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it” (whatever it was) repeated several times within the same commercial;

        2) Howard Dean’s primal scream repeated over and over (even though he only did that once);

        3) Pelosi’s “we have to pass it to see what is in it” line.

        Trump’s commercial merely uses the repetition of an act instead of words and does it very effectively, I think.


        • Agree, it was a way of emphasizing the specific content of the work she was attacking, not unlike the rhetorical device of repeating a catch-phrase after each point in a speech or presentation.

          • I don’t think that’s what Jut is saying at all. It isn’t ethical because its a common practice; it’s a common practice because it’s effective, and because it’s so common, it doesn’t mislead anyone.

            • Yes. And it is not meant to deceive. It is meant to emphasize. Repetition is a way to emphasize. And, in politics, emphasizing the stupidity of your opponents (or hypocrisy, duplicity, or primal screaminess) is almost a public service.

              What is the alternative? 10 different commercials, one with a statement followed by her tearing up the speech? Equally true, less effective and possibly more deceptive. 4 incidents in one commercial accomplishes the repetition better and might. E less misleading than having 4 separate commercials.


    • AIJ: As someone who promotes ethical marketing, it is important to be transparent, including that an act was not literally repeated issue by issue, but done once to symbolically disrespect its entire content. This ad is hyperbolic and dances on the edge of being unethical for those who did not witness the act of tearing up the speech just once in real time. Should people be able to figure this out? Yes. But that’s not the ethical problem. Misrepresentation is.

      I watched the first minute and then skipped forward. I see this ad as a commentary on a topical issue. Non-different from all political speech. Its message — some agree, some disagree — is that by tearing up Trump’s speech that NP had contempt for those people and situations that Trump brought forward in his speech. This is part of the story, but not the full story.

      It puts in doubt their (Demos) patriotism and indeed their values. In a sense this is misrepresentation because it is not likely that NP would not want to see a soldier reunited with his wife, or a child get a scholarship (and all the rest). Her contempt is really of another sort. But that is part of the message of the Ad: All that they do is deranged. Out of control.

      So, in this sense the video makes a statement that can be contradicted (as I have just done, up to a point). But it is entirely in the domain of ‘speech’ and is non-different from what people say.

      The ‘ad’ is clearly hyperbolic, but then so many political ads are. They always blow up some smallish thing and amplify it: hyperbole.

      If anyone did not witness the tearing up (either by watching the SOTU address, or seeing the clips) then they are irresponsible for not being informed. If they did not as a result do a search to find the portion of the speech when she did that, that’s their responsibility. You have to be informed to appreciate the ad or to *grasp* its intended message. But then you have to be informed (or *misinformed*!) to understand all the lunacy of the day!

      The message is that ‘Democrats are undermining our common values’ ‘Democrats are going overboard in their opposition’ ‘Democrat’s hatred of Trump have caused them to lose their grip’ and things of that sort. The ad states, more or less, that Trump is *doing good* and it is not appreciated. But it reaches a target audience already convinced of this: it bolsters an idea they already have.

      This is all part of vast social and political deception — open trickery — but the ad fits into that *world* like Machiavelli’s delicate hand in a pigskin glove . . . 🙂

  3. If Pelosi questions statements in the SOTU she had an opportunity to rebut such statements afterwards. Instead she turned the mike over to the Michigan governor who is on record to abolish ICE.

    Pelosi the next day refrenced the Charlottesville event and how Trump called Nazis good people. Now that is not a distortion but a lie designed to cause harm.

    • Only the left has the right to lie, twist, distort, and put everything in the worst possible light. The right just has to sit down, shut up, and lose gracefully.

  4. I always thought politics was ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the fire.’ She and her buddies have been applying heat far out of proportion to losing an election. It’s a bit late to whine about any strategic return fire.

  5. Just saw a Bloomberg that spliced Trump statements between statements of many other presidents. I don’t think that’s how they unfolded in real time.

    Many of the Trump splices were from his campaign, and intentionally cherry picked as the lowest while the splices from the other presidents were cherry picked as the best.

    Further, the video used the leaked audio of “grab them by the pussy” when Trump was behind closed doors and dubbed it over video of Trump as though he said it as President in public statements.

    That is wildly more deceptive than what I’ve seen here from Trump’s video and I still wouldn’t want it taken down or censored.

      • You have to marvel at the chutzpah of the dems to make the huge detour around creepy totalitarian megalomaniac billionaires like Blomberg and Steyer to get to their destination of trying to label Trump as such a one.

    • This is exactly what I was thinking. What is going to happen when we get into political ad season, this is basically how all political ads work. Either they are (and this is all perspective) lying (misrepresenting) about what they did or want to do, or they are lying (misrepresenting) what their opponent did or wants to do Although I couldn’t care less about a stupid video, or even the fact that she tore up the speech, highlighting the action is very much fair game. If we embrace this standard, then that is the end of all political ads. Of course we all know the D’s want to enforce this standard against R’s, but laugh if off when it is a D who does it.

      • RR wrote: “This is exactly what I was thinking. What is going to happen when we get into political ad season, this is basically how all political ads work. Either they are (and this is all perspective) lying (misrepresenting) about what they did or want to do, or they are lying (misrepresenting) what their opponent did or wants to do.”

        What I find interesting is that this ‘paraphrasing’ (as I am calling it) is so ubiquitous. We make an attempt, either glancing or profound, depending, to understand someone’s position. If we disagree, and especially if we *hate* it, we go about deliberately misconstruing it: paraphrasing it in the worst light possible. We do this first as a sort of translation to ourself: to reduce it to *what it really is* from what it is pretending to be, and we pick apart its *pretense* and parse out its lies and deceptions. It is exegetical work!

        I think we can honestly and fairly say that it is these *rehearsals of misrepresentation* that define our cultural situation. Advertising, so prevalent, so fundamental to persuasive communication, is a *lying industry*. By definition it is sophistical. But who wants to be tricked? Only a fool gets tricked, right? So the *wise* develop exegetical and hermeneutical skill. We all have to do this. We become experts at ‘resisting trickery’.

        What I find quite interesting is to focus on those topics and in those areas where everyone seems to agree. Take for example how Charlottesville is described and interpreted. The description is always a reduction and an encapsulation, and it is always presented in the most prejudicing terms possible: white supremacy, Nazism. That is, paraphrase.

        My take on *all of this* and the entire climate of intellectual and ideological chaos is that you have to step back from all of it and carefully sort things through. To sift out of the distortion the grain of truth.

        It is very hard and very demanding. But then, when one encapsulates and paraphrases, it becomes more likely that one will do it fairly. (Which does not serve any purpose when crucial political battles are being fought because it is not one’s purpose in a war to *understand* one’s enemy!)

        I do want the Demos to be given comfortable trains and accommodations when they are round up and sent to The Reeducation Camps. But I am a very fair person!

        • This is unclear: “But then, when one encapsulates and paraphrases, it becomes more likely that one will do it fairly.”

          I meant to suggest that the more one does one’s exegetical work (interpretive work) from a disinterested position, the better and more fair and accurate are one’s *paraphrases*.

          • Advertising is not a lying industry. As someone who has ethically, successfully and profitably run an agency for 30 years your comment is built on bias and ignorance. Those who lie are almost always doomed to failure.

            There are many ways the President’s ad could have been more effective and more ethically presented.

            There a great deal of research indicating the contrary of your assertion.

            • Advertising, public relations, propaganda: these are all known to tilt toward lying. There are too many examples of extreme lies in these to deny. Can it be pure or *more pure*? Yes, and I tend to approach these questions from an abstract and ideal point.

              But someone advertising their mechanic’s shop and someone advertising their bakery (and many other things): I admit that these are fair usages of advertising persuasion & communication. It can be done ethically.

              I have mentioned the book The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom. It influenced me in how I see advertising, PR and propaganda.

              How to sell corruption disguised as freedom. What a concept! In the land of the brave and free . . .

              You made me think of this ad, not sure why:

  6. Why didn’t the speakers minions scold CNN for running the video of her ripping up the speech continuously for the twenty-four or so hours after the STOU concluded on their home page? It ran literally non-stop for hours there. Why wasn’t that misrepresentation? It was free publicity, that’s why! She obviously loved the exposure. What a shrew.

  7. I just don’t see how this is deceptive. It is just making the point that she ripped up each of those stories when she ripped up the speech. Repetition for emphasis is a common technique and I don’t think it is deceptive when this is a well-known story and it is easy to find out the background on it. I don’t think the assertion that when she ripped up the speech she was disrespectful to each of those stories is unreasonable, that is what I took away from it when I saw it. Now, if they had edited it to really make it look like she had multiple copies of the speech and she was ripping it up throughout the State of the Union address (using different camera angles, changing the lighting, zoom ins, etc) that would be different. I think the argument that “Stupid people who know nothing of the event, don’t have any news outlets, have never seen repetition for emphasis before, and don’t notice that it is the exact same clip each time might be misled to think Nancy Pelosi had a huge stack of copies of Trump’s speech and was ripping them up for 90m minutes straight during the State of the Union address” is a pretty weak objection. Nancy Pelosi also said the speech was ‘a pack of lies’. If they made a commercial asserting that Nancy Pelosi accused each one of those people of making up their story (accused the General of just pretending to be a Tuskeegee airman, for example), I would say that is a low blow because that is not a reasonable interpretation of that.

    • Hmmmm…..perhaps Pelosi only tore up one copy of the speech because that was the only one she could get her hands on.

      What if she really had had a stack of copies of the SOTU? Do we think she might really have spent the whole speech tearing them up, one after the other? After all she’s done — it’s not hard to envision her doing exactly that.

  8. It’s not like they put a dancing gingerbread man on her soldier on Pelosi’s soldier and dubbed words that were not said. Pelosi did rip-up the speech, marking her disrespect for the special guests there. The Pelosi staff is mostly mad that it was a stunt that didn’t sting Trump and only made her look foolish.

  9. Perhaps the Trump campaign should have responded by saying, “Under the circumstances, it seemed like the courteous thing to do. ”

    It’s annoying that the Speaker of the House — the 3rd ranking member of our government — believes that she is entitled to suppress speech she doesn’t like. It’s scary to think she might get away with it. I hope Facebook and Twitter are able to stand up to her.

    They might want to do the calculations — come next January, it’s a lot more likely that Trump will still be there than Pelosi will still be Speaker. If nothing else, self preservation should dictate a fair shake.

  10. I wonder how many people, people who did not watch the speech, or even care about it, and were prepared to dismiss the whole thing as ‘political bullsh!t’, saw the tear-up on the morning news, or heard someone mention it, and decided to go back and look at the speech, and see if this was real. Certainly there were people who resisted the first impulse, but when San Fran Nam started her attempts to shut down the ad, they decided to see the ad and then went back to watch the speech. This is an awesome example of the Streisand Effect.

  11. “Causing harm” is a horrible standard to pick.

    One need not look any further than the progressives “trigger warning” that they advocate. The trigger warning is based on the premise that some factual speech, be it written, auditory, or video, is harmful because it can cause someone to be “triggered”. Yes, according to progressives, some content is unacceptable even though it is factual.

    Once you are aware of the whole “trigger warning”, the standard of “causing harm” should be a dog whistle that immediately leads to the recognition that censorship of the facts is afoot.

  12. I’ve been thinking about this video on and off all day, and about the cries of “inaccurate” and “false narrative” and all that. In my mind, it raises questions about other things.

    Is it fair for me to wonder…

    a. Should movies with depictions of World War II events that don’t line up with actual facts not be allowed to be made, produced, and shown in theaters or on TV?

    b. Should an impressionist’s rendering of a San Antonio skyline not be allowed in a gallery because the color palette isn’t true-to-life?

    c. Should the 1990s crime drama “Silk Stalkings” be removed from Hulu because the stories supposedly took place in Palm Beach, but were actually filmed in San Diego?

    d. And books with fictional stores and streets in Chicago or London or Singapore…are these “deliberately designed to lie and mislead”…like the Pelosi video?

    Am I going too far in wondering these questions? As Jack (and others) have mentioned, we should be able to separate fact from fiction, and hyperbole from outright lie. If hyperbole and exaggeration are now considered evil and worthy of censure, aren’t the examples mentioned above worthy of censure as well?

  13. Repeating something for emphasis in a commercial is not unethical. It’s not even questionable.

    To even entertain otherwise would be to make any rhetoric equal to false advertising.

    There was no attempt to deceive here. There was no actual expectation by the makers of this ad that anyone would believe that Nancy Pelosi was tearing up papers repeatedly in the exact same motion. You would have to scour the countryside to find one person who watches this video and thinks that Pelosi tore up the speech. And that person is irrelevant because he also thinks that Kool-Aid Man is real.

    The revolting thing about this entire episode is that “respectable” Leftists, including LAWMAKERS, thought they could manipulate their allies at Facebook and Twitter into suppressing this very typical campaign ad. They failed to understand that these companies have to maintain a veneer of objectivity to avoid serious legal issues…and that banning this ad would destroy that.

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