A video recently uploaded by the Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s Rapid Response team, “DeSantis War Room” @DeSantisWarRoom on Twitter, has created quite a stir. The video employs AI-generated images, intentionally misrepresenting the relationship between former President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci. It audaciously attempts to portray Trump as a Fauci ally, a narrative far removed from the truth.
The disturbing inclination of the DeSantis campaign to exploit artificial intelligence for politically advantageous purposes underscores their willingness to create misinformation. Alarmingly, this demonstrates DeSantis’ desperate attempt to gain traction in the polls where he has been consistently lagging, barely reaching 20%. His resorting to computer-generated images to smear Trump not only exposes the unscrupulous tactics being employed but also reflects on his campaign’s diminishing credibility.
Donald Trump became a household name by FIRING countless people *on television*
But when it came to Fauci… pic.twitter.com/7Lxwf75NQm
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) June 5, 2023
The video posted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s rapid response team is a blatant attempt to undermine the historical facts of former President Donald Trump’s administration. It suggests an exaggerated alliance between Trump and Dr. Fauci, despite their well-documented differences over the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s particularly rich coming from DeSantis, who was a staunch Trump ally during this period and refrained from questioning Trump’s pandemic response strategy, thus showing his tacit endorsement of the same policies he now criticizes. The video would go on to have a Community Notes fact-check put on the post, saying:
“The 3 still shots showing Trump embracing Fauci are AI generated images. The remainder of the ad’s recordings and images are authentic.
The video features a deceptive collage of six images of Trump and Fauci, of which three are AI-generated fabrications depicting the pair in a warm embrace. When juxtaposed with the three authentic images, the faked ones represent a calculated attempt to spin a narrative at odds with the reality of their relationship.
DeSantis’s team went to considerable lengths to mislead voters by cleverly interweaving genuine and artificial images. Displaying all six images simultaneously, with half being real and half being AI-generated forgeries, they sought to exploit the credibility of the genuine photos to validate the fakes. This insidious tactic highlights their intention to distort the truth and misrepresent former President Trump’s stance, thereby betraying an alarming disregard for factual accuracy.
Despite the attempts by the DeSantis team to deflect criticism by stating, “This was not an ad, it was a social media post,” it cannot be denied that the blurring of the lines between reality and fiction they facilitated is a severe concern. Unfathomably, as reported by NPR. DeSantis and his team are attempting to paint former President Trump with the same brush, adding “If the Trump team is upset about this, I’d ask them why they have been continuously posting fake images and false talking points to smear the governor.”
It is essential to clarify the distinction between the posts made by Trump on his Truth Social account and DeSantis’ recent misleading AI campaign. Trump’s posts have included humorous, light-hearted memes such as DeSantis riding a rhinoceros. The comical implication is that DeSantis is a Republican In Name Only (RINO). Given the whimsical nature of the imagery, with DeSantis portrayed in full formal attire astride a prehistoric beast, it’s clear that these are satirical memes, devoid of any intent to deceive.
Similarly, other memes posted by Trump included a fabricated Twitter space where DeSantis appears in conversation with Satan and Adolph Hitler. Given the inherently implausible context – one figure is a non-physical entity with no ability to use Twitter (although, at times you’d think the devil himself was on Twitter) alongside a dictator who died more than seven decades ago – it is self-evident that these are intended as parody, not attempts at misinformation.
Yet, DeSantis’s team is asserting Trump’s guilt despite the obvious satire. This attempt at equivalency between Trump’s transparently humorous memes and DeSantis’ manipulated media that muddies the line between reality and fiction is patently flawed and reveals a discernible bias. It is clear that Trump’s memes were shared in jest, while DeSantis’ AI-created images were a deceitful misrepresentation with potentially more damaging consequences.