AP’S ASSESSMENT: Altered video. Video of a recent episode of “Hannity” has been edited to insert footage of DeSantis at a 2020 press conference, where he spoke about state authorities executing a search warrant on the home of a former Florida Department of Health data analyst.
THE FACTS: The edited video was first posted to Twitter on Friday evening, after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized Monday’s search of the former president’s property in Palm Beach, Florida.
The video shows host Sean Hannity appearing to speak on split screens with DeSantis and Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump. Hannity begins by saying, “This raid happened, and it was a raid.” The video then shows footage of DeSantis saying, “It’s not a raid, I mean with all due respect.” Lara Trump says, “It of course was a raid,” and the three then appear to verbally spar over the definition throughout the one-and-a-half-minute clip.
The video was viewed more than 3 million times on Twitter, where it was posted with the caption: “Ron DeSantis went on Hannity and things got SPICY.”
The creator was clear in subsequent posts that the clip was edited, and was intended to contrast DeSantis’ 2020 remarks with his recent comments on the FBI’s actions at Mar-a-Lago. DeSantis on Monday had tweeted that the “raid” was “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.”
While many Twitter users recognized that the clip was spliced together to make a point, others retweeted it as a real interview. “I did not expect this from DeSantis,” wrote one user sharing the clip. The video also spread to Facebook and TikTok, where many users also appeared to believe it was an authentic clip of the Republican Florida governor on Fox.
Hannity described the edited video in a tweet as “fake news” while a DeSantis campaign spokesperson called it “disinformation.” Both called on the social media platform to remove the footage. “This never happened!! They spliced in comments the Governor made years ago,” Hannity tweeted.
Indeed, the clip combines two separate videos. The footage of Hannity and Trump comes from an interview on Tuesday’s episode of “Hannity,” which also featured Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary for George W. Bush. This video has been edited to replace Fleischer with old footage of DeSantis.
The DeSantis footage comes from a Dec. 11, 2020, press conference, four days after Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents served a search warrant on the Tallahassee home of former health department employee Rebekah Jones, who made national headlines when she raised questions about the state’s COVID-19 data. Authorities had alleged that she illegally accessed the department’s computer system.
DeSantis was asked by a reporter: “Were you aware that the Rebekah Jones raid was about to happen?” The governor disputed characterizing the search as a “raid” and fired back that the agents were being smeared for “doing their jobs.”
His subsequent exchange with reporters at the press conference was spliced with the “Hannity” footage to make it appear that DeSantis was instead arguing with Hannity and Trump.
There are also many visual clues that the edited video is not authentic. While Hannity and Trump are seen talking to camera in studios at night, DeSantis is looking off camera and sunlight is streaming in behind him. The footage of each person also frequently freezes or plays on a loop when they are not speaking.
The Associated Press reported that court papers unsealed Friday showed FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago on Monday to investigate potential violations of three laws, including one that governs defense information under the Espionage Act. Agents took 11 sets of classified records from the estate, according to a property receipt unsealed by the court.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.