Unmasked: The GOP Operative Making Those Viral Frozen Biden Videos

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters/Twitter
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters/Twitter

For the next five months, until election day, Americans will be bombarded by videos pushed by Republicans trying to depict President Joe Biden as too old for the job.

Just recently, Biden, 81, has been shown supposedly pooping himself (he did not); supposedly wandering away from other world leaders (fact-checkers and aides say he did not); supposedly “freezing” at a White House concert (aides said others stood still too); and supposedly “wandering” offstage at a fundraiser with Barack Obama (aides say he stopped to take in a cheering audience).

Footage can come from anything: a C-SPAN feed or cellphone video that can be shared quickly on social media.

The White House and the Biden campaign have pushed back hard, calling such videos “cheap fakes” and accusing Republicans and right-wing media outlets of editing footage deceptively. Biden’s camp has also tried to remind voters that the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, is 78, a convicted felon, and in questionable shape himself.

But the Biden clips keep coming. Just last week, senior Trump adviser and campaign co-chair Chris LaCivita gleefully posted footage of Biden getting into a Secret Service Suburban with the comment: “Here is another ‘cheap fake’ video.”

Anatomy of a Smear Campaign: Why Trumpworld Said Biden Pooped Himself

The man behind many such videos is a perennially online 31-year-old Republican National Committee (RNC) staffer named Jake Schneider.

Schneider keeps a low profile and few pictures of him exist online. His Twitter profile shows him casually dressed and in a mountain setting—not hunched over a phone or laptop.

But Trumpworld sources credit him as “the tip of the spear” in the onslaught on Biden’s age.

Schneider, who worked for the Trump campaign in 2020, is the RNC director of rapid response. In that role, he runs the RNC Research account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and is often first to post viral clips of Biden stumbling over his words or stumbling in front of the cameras.

“I don’t think anything special needs to go into making Biden look old and frail,” a source close to Trump told The Daily Beast, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about the clips constantly irking the Biden campaign and the White House.

The clips range from simple shots of Biden going about his business to what the White House say are examples of cynical and deceptive editing—such as when the president visited Normandy to commemorate D-Day and an edited clip led a not insignificant number of Americans to believe the president pooped his pants during the solemn ceremony.

The clip stoked fury and fact checks. But the cat was out of the bag.

The Trumpworld source heaped praise on Schneider, a Minnesota native who got his start in Republican politics as an intern for Michele Bachmann —the Tea Party favorite and one-time member of Congress who ran for the presidential nomination in 2012, earned notoriety for her far-right views, retired in 2014, and then re-emerged eight years later warning about “transgender Black Marxists” threatening to bring down America.

Now, her former intern and his online brethren think they have found a way of triggering Democrats and energizing Trump voters with videos the Trumpworld source said make it “very clear the Democrats see [Biden’s age] as a problem.”

“That’s why they are responding to it in such an aggressive manner, and they’re trying to drag Trump into this as well.”

The president’s campaign has indeed deployed its ample resources toward countering age-related attacks.

Biden’s team is most aggressive on TikTok, compiling clips of Trump sounding nonsensical—pouncing on his repeated praise for “the late, great Hannibal Lecter,” for example—and constantly returning to photos from a golf outing where an unusually pale Trump looked wispy and disheveled.

The White House has also taken Fox News and other right-wing outlets to task over “cheap fake” videos, as The Daily Beast previously reported. It has pushed back when mainstream outlets cover the issue.

James Singer, a Biden campaign spokesperson, said Republicans “now openly admit [they] are so scared of losing to Joe Biden, they’ll make anything up to distract from the fact that their candidate for president, Donald Trump, has been convicted of 34 felonies, found liable for sexual assault, committed financial fraud, and only cares about himself.

“The Murdoch and MAGA media’s obsession with cheap fakes is just an acknowledgement that they are scared because Donald Trump is a failed president who is running on an agenda of middle class tax hikes, an 'inflation spiral,' abortion bans, and putting his revenge and retribution ahead of the American people.”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, seen at his golf club in New Jersey last year.

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Trumpworld, of course, remains unabashed. Another senior Republican operative, close to the RNC, said the ingredients for the most effective Biden clips were simple.

“When you look at the video and ask yourself, ‘If my Dad was doing that, would I force him to seek medical attention?’ And the answer is honestly yes… you know you have a winner.”

Schneider did not return a request for comment, though he does occasionally post to social media. Recently, he rebuked CBS News, calling its staff “clowns” over attempts to cover Republican video attacks on Biden.

On Friday, he posted footage of Biden walking with the comment: “Why is he shuffling like th— nevermind, don’t answer that.”

‘He just does it for us’

Schneider isn’t the only one catching the attention of Trumpworld in the clip wars.

“Our digital team is significantly more skilled than the Democrats,” the first Trumpworld source said, “but I also think there’s something that’s invaluable: the organic content creators on our side.”

The operative named Jack Posobiec and Dan Bongino as two big online names helping spread clips.

Another star in Trumpworld is Catturd, the pseudonymous X celebrity (revealed to be Florida man Philip Buchanan) who has more than 3 million followers and regularly inserts himself into culture war fights.

The source close to Trump said the ingredients of an effective Biden viral clip—from the Republican point of view—were not too complicated. Anything showing the president’s stiff body language or gait is a win.

“Nobody has to take Biden’s clips out of context to make him look old, frail, and weird. He just does it for us. It doesn’t really matter where the clip comes from. There are cameras on him constantly.”

What has Trumpworld most excited is just how mad the Biden campaign has been getting—that and strong confidence that an army of pro-Trump influencers will post videos without needing to be paid. Such influencer wars were a defining feature of the GOP primary, after all.

The Trumpworld source said: “Catturd, whether you wanna laugh at his name or not, he’s got over 3 million followers. The Democrats do not have a counter to that.”

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