Fact-check busts GOP attack ad for using Trump-era photos to depict Biden's 'chaos'

Fact-check busts GOP attack ad for using Trump-era photos to depict Biden's 'chaos'
Image via Screengrab.

A new Republican attack ad is being scrutinized for its use of deceptive images to depict President Joe Biden's administration as chaotic. CNN's Daniel Dale has created a detailed assessment that points out the problems with the Republican ad.

The 30-second ad, titled "Chaos," was released by the National Republican Congressional Committee this week. It begins with a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaking of "bold progress for the people when we have President Joe Biden in the White House." Then, the video shifts to a series of photos and clips highlighting disturbing incidents of civil unrest.

Although Republican viewers may see the ad as a true depiction of what's going on in America, Dale lists the problematic and misleading aspects of the ad.

"Republicans would be free to point out in an ad that each of these three clips are from cities governed by Democratic mayors (though it would be fair for Democrats to respond that Trump was president)," Dale writes. "But this particular ad does something different -- it tries to pin the scenes of urban chaos on the Biden administration. And that's simply dishonest."

The fact-check analysis highlights the following pieces of the clip that were falsely presented:

1. The Molotov cocktail

The Molotov cocktail clip that appears at the 11-second mark of the clip actually stems from protests that took place in September 2020 in Portland, Ore. Those protests were a response to the grand jury decision to only indict one of the three police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot and killed inside her Kentucky apartment.



2. The smoke and fireworks

The next display features billows of red smoke in the middle of a street amid civil unrest. Although Republicans want to depict this chaotic scene as something that has taken place under Biden's leadership, it actually occurred under former President Donald Trump. The original clip was posted in July 2020 by freelance journalist Justin Yau. When he initially uploaded a clip of the scene on Twitter, he included a caption that read, "Activists threw smoke grenades and fireworks to cover their advance. The protest crowd has retaken Lownsdale Park Square. #PortlandProtest #PDXprotests #BlackLivesMatter"


3. The display of the Black Lives Matter sign

According to Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, the Black Lives Matter sign surrounded by flames at the 17-second mark is also an image of "chaos" that erupted during Trump's time in office. Per CNN: "This image is from Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020, during the unrest that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. (The sign belonged to a Unitarian Universalist church.)"

With the release of the misleading clip, NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer released a statement first obtained by Axios.

"Democrats' weak leadership and socialist agenda have led to chaos at home and abroad," Emmer said. "Americans deserve better than the higher costs, open borders and nationwide crime wave that Democrats have forced upon them."

Despite Emmer's claims, White House spokesperson Mike Gwin offered the ad as an opportunity to remind the American public of what the country was like before Biden. In an emailed statement, Gwin said, "We want to thank House Republicans for highlighting the mess President Biden inherited from his predecessor."

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