comScore

Conservative National Review Smears Joe Biden With Deceptive ‘Garden Variety Slap’ Edit

On Wednesday morning, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to a crowd in Rockville, Maryland, to highlight the urgent need to reduce domestic violence homicides. The conservative website National Review Online clipped a portion of the Vice President’s remarks to make it seem as though he was saying that a slap in the face is no big deal, when in fact, he was drawing a distinction between unacceptable forms of abuse. The site later added the crucial bit of context, without apology or correction, but simply a note saying the post was “amended.”

National Review Online’s Nathaniel Botwinick seems to have keyed in on Biden’s use of the clumsy phrase “garden-variety slap across the face” as a way to make the VP seem indifferent to women who are merely slapped. Here’s how their post originally appeared:

Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a new domestic-violence-reduction initiative in Maryland this morning. Unfortunately, Biden’s choice of words seemed to downplay certain forms of domestic abuse:

We’ve learned that certain behaviors on the part of an abuser portend much more danger than other behaviors. For example, if an abuser has attempted to strangle his victim, if he has threatened to shoot her, if he has sexually assaulted her, and there’s a number of other signs, about eight others. These are tell-tale signs to say this isn’t your garden-variety slap across the face.

The post was accompanied by this video featuring an obvious mid-sentence edit at the end. The video was uploaded to the NRO YouTube account, so it’s not as though they were “taken in” by some other user:


Granted, the Vice President’s phrase was clumsy, but even without the additional context, his point is clear: he is drawing distinctions between benchmarks in the cycle of abuse, in order to determine the level of intervention required. Still, it was an unfortunate phrase that would have undercut that distinction, had he not said anything to reinforce it.

Several hours later, the post was updated with the identical text from Botwinick, but a slightly longer transcript, and a vague editor’s note:

Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a new domestic-violence-reduction initiative in Maryland this morning. Unfortunately, Biden’s choice of words seemed to downplay certain forms of domestic abuse:

We’ve learned that certain behaviors on the part of an abuser portend much more danger than other behaviors. For example, if an abuser has attempted to strangle his victim, if he has threatened to shoot her, if he has sexually assaulted her, and there’s a number of other signs, about eight others. These are tell-tale signs to say this isn’t your garden-variety slap across the face which is totally unacceptable in and of itself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been amended since its original posting.

This slightly longer video clip accompanied the new post:


The difference is clear, and as a respected conservative publication, The National Review should have issued a clear correction, and an apology. Since their editor’s note is so vague, it’s unclear whether they were pressured to make the change, or whether they would have changed it at all absent such pressure. NRO and the Vice President’s office have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Update: Botwinick has now updated his post again, to include a detailed apology. As of this writing, at 6:42 pm, the original, edited video remains on NRO’s YouTube channel:

UPDATE: I apologize for my initial post which clipped the vice president in mid-sentence. I did not properly check the video in my haste. The complete remark, now on the amended post, changes the meaning. I sincerely apologize to the vice president and to our readers.

At least one conservative site, The Washington Free Beacon, still features the edit and the smear, and has uploaded the chopped video to its own YouTube account. Now that NRO has fixed their own post, maybe they could hip their brethren to the truth, which has apparently just gotten its boots on.

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under: