Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart on Wednesday refuted an allegation by one of President Donald Trump’s sons that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden relied on a teleprompter in a recent interview.
In a clip tweeted by Eric Trump of the former vice president’s interview last week with Telemundo, Biden pledges that “there are going to be no deportations in the first 100 days” of his presidency.
After making that statement, Biden’s line of sight shifts forward to Diaz-Balart, who asks him to clarify his position.
In response, Biden turns his head back to his left to reiterate that he will “freeze deportations for the first 100 days” and only deport “people who committed a felony while here.”
Biden then seems to express confusion at an apparent technical glitch. But Diaz-Balart redirects the conversation and tells him: “We can talk, you and I, on that.”
Asked about the incident Wednesday, Diaz-Balart told POLITICO that Biden did not use a teleprompter in their interview and was merely answering viewer questions coming from an off-camera screen.
“Of course not. He was asked to answer questions from Telemundo viewers” who appeared “on a monitor,” Diaz-Balart said. “He would answer the monitor.”
“In one moment the monitor went to black,” Diaz-Balart recounted, and Biden said, “‘I lost the lady.’”
“I told him he could answer looking at me,” Diaz-Balart said, “and that was that.”
Diaz-Balart, who hails from Miami, is the brother of Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
Telemundo also weighed in on the controversy later Wednesday afternoon, writing on its official Twitter account that social media posts claiming Biden used a teleprompter in his interview with the network “are absolutely FALSE.”
“Noticias Telemundo has never allowed someone who is being interviewed on its news programs to read answers from a teleprompter which would be a clear violation of its editorial policies and standards,” Telemundo tweeted .
The video amplified Wednesday by Eric Trump is part of a long-standing effort by his father’s reelection campaign to cast Biden as mentally infirm and unable to speak off the cuff.
The president has recently begun mocking Biden’s teleprompter use and claiming he reads from them in local television interviews — even though Donald Trump himself uses teleprompters at campaign rallies and official events, and there is no evidence that Biden uses them other than to deliver prepared remarks.
Trump’s campaign released a one-minute advertisement last week pushing that same theory, intercut with clips of various interviews and speeches by Biden.
Falsehoods aside, the strategy of framing Biden as rhetorically slow-footed is prompting criticism from some Republicans who argue Trump has lowered the bar ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate — setting Biden up to easily exceed expectations.
Trump and his allies have repeatedly shared misinformation online meant to disparage Biden, promoting deceptive videos and amplifying false allegations.
Twitter flagged as manipulated media a tweet shared by Trump’s campaign last month that included a misleadingly edited video of Biden mockingly quoting Trump’s claim: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
And just last week, Trump retweeted a doctored clip that was flagged by Twitter, showing Biden bobbing his head along to the 1988 protest rap “F--- tha Police” by the hip hop group N.W.A.
Marc Caputo contributed to this report.