J.D. Vance Knocks DeSantis Campaign: ‘Unacceptable’ to Smear Trump with Fake AI Images

Sen.-elect J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, November 16, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance (R) on Thursday knocked the DeSantis campaign after it came under fire for sharing a video criticizing former President Donald Trump’s handling of Dr. Anthony Fauci, using what appear to be AI-generated images of Trump fondly hugging the former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) director.

“Smearing Donald Trump with fake AI images is completely unacceptable,” Vance said. “I’m not sharing them, but we’re in a new era. Be even more skeptical of what you see on the internet.”

 His remark followed a controversial video shared by the DeSantis War Room on Twitter, which contained the images in question.

“Donald Trump became a household name by FIRING countless people *on television* But when it came to Fauci…” the caption reads, as the video shared by the DeSantis War Room knocks Trump for failing to fire Fauci while he was president.

At one point, the video shows six images of Trump and Fauci. However, three of those images — showing Trump lovingly hugging Fauci in the same way he has adoringly embraced the American flag in the past — appear not to be real, but AI-generated. One of the fake images shows Trump actually kissing Fauci’s cheek.

The images can be seen beginning at the 25-second mark.

AFP initially pointed out the fakery of the images, which were mixed in with legitimate photos:

“It was sneaky to intermix what appears to be authentic photos with fake photos, but these three images are almost certainly AI generated,” said Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and expert in digital forensics, misinformation and image analysis.

Farid and two other media forensics experts polled by AFP agreed the images have irregular characteristics typical of those produced by AI.

Among other indications of fakery, the sign behind Trump and Fauci in the collage’s upper-left image resembles the backdrop of the White House press briefing room, but the text is incomprehensible and does not properly spell “The White House” or “Washington.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Rapid Response Director Christina Pushaw appeared to dismiss the critiques, sharing an obviously fake image shared by Trump on Truth Social featuring DeSantis riding on a rhinoceros.

I think this might be an AI-generated image. Who knows?” she mocked:

Podcaster Tim Pool is among those who has publicly criticized the DeSantis team’s decision to include those realistic images in the video.

“I was 55/45 for Trump/DeSantis,” he wrote. Now Im[sic] 0% for DeSantis. Using AI images to smear Trump is a hard fuck you. DeSantis must disavow.”


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