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Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden plays singer Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" on a phone before speaking at a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Sept. 15, 2020, at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP/Semansky) Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden plays singer Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" on a phone before speaking at a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Sept. 15, 2020, at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP/Semansky)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden plays singer Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" on a phone before speaking at a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Sept. 15, 2020, at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP/Semansky)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy September 16, 2020

Trump retweets manipulated video falsely suggesting Biden played ‘F--- Tha Police’ at Florida event

If Your Time is short

  • After singer Luis Fonsi introduced Joe Biden at an event in Florida, Biden whipped out his cellphone and played Fonsi’s “Despacito” into the microphone.

  • The video President Donald Trump twice retweeted is manipulated and was labeled as such by Twitter. Biden was not playing N.W.A.’s protest song, “F--- Tha Police.”

Before speaking at a event in Florida, former Vice President Joe Biden paid a tribute to Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, who introduced him moments earlier, by taking out a cellphone and playing Fonsi’s hit love song "Despacito" through the microphone.

The next day, President Donald Trump twice retweeted a misleading and manipulated video of the tribute that appeared to show Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, broadcasting a different tune: hip-hop group N.W.A.’s 1988 anti-police anthem "F--- Tha Police." 

"What is this all about?" Trump wrote in the first retweet.

"China is drooling. They can’t believe this!" he said when he reshared the video hours later.

The manipulated 27-second clip gives the false impression that Biden was bobbing his head while listening to rapper Ice Cube run through the song’s opening lines. The incendiary first verse includes obscenities and a line proclaiming that "police think they have the authority to kill a minority."

The verse begins: "F--- the police, coming straight from the underground."

But Biden did not play "F--- Tha Police" during the Sept. 15 event in Kissimmee, Fla., which was billed as a celebration of Hispanic heritage month and featured speeches from singer Ricky Martin and actress Eva Longoria in addition to Fonsi. Biden played Fonsi’s "Despacito."

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‘I’ll tell you what, if I had the talent of any one of these people, I’d be elected president by acclamation," Biden said after he turned the music off.

Unedited footage of Fonsi’s handoff to Biden can be viewed here, via PBS NewsHour.

Twitter labeled the edited video that Trump retweeted as "manipulated media" according to its policy regarding "synthetic and manipulated media," a Twitter spokesperson confirmed. 

The "manipulated media" tag links to tweets about the event from news outlets and reporters, some of whom noted that they were in the room as Biden played "Despacito."

Trump and his allies have falsely and repeatedly claimed that Biden wants to defund the police — and they have sometimes selectively edited or manipulated media to misrepresent Biden’s stance. Biden has rejected that position and instead proposed investing more in a program for community police.

"F--- Tha Police" surged on music streaming platforms following the May killing by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis, according to Rolling Stone. 

The song was also controversial at the time of its release. Radio stations banned it, and the FBI wrote a letter to Priority Records, which distributed N.W.A.’s music, the Daily Beast reported.

That said, Biden didn’t play it in Florida. We rate Trump’s retweets Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Donald J. Trump on Twitter, Sept. 16, 2020

Donald J. Trump on Twitter, Sept. 16, 2020

The Washington Post, "Trump shares manipulated video of Biden, replacing ‘Despacito’ with N.W.A’s anti-police anthem," Sept. 16, 2020

PBS Newshour on YouTube, "WATCH: Biden attends a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee, Florida," Sept. 15, 2020

Rolling Stone, "Streams of N.W.A’s ‘F–k tha Police’ Nearly Quadruple Amid Nationwide Protests," June 3, 2020

The Daily Beast, "The FBI Agent Who Hunted N.W.A," Aug. 14, 2015

Statement from Twitter, Sept. 16, 2020

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Trump retweets manipulated video falsely suggesting Biden played ‘F--- Tha Police’ at Florida event

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