Michael Cisneros, a gay man whose black son was exploited in a fake “racist baby” video tweeted by President Donald Trump on Thursday night, is speaking out.
“PLEASE!!! SHARE THIS!!!! EVERYONE!!!! HE WILL NOT TURN THIS LOVING, BEAUTIFUL VIDEO TO FURTHER HIS HATE AGENDA,” Cisneros wrote above a link to Trump’s tweet on Facebook.
“HE CAN NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS!!!” Cisneros wrote in another post. He added that the move was disgusting but not surprising” coming from “filthy” Trump.
“Just when you think he can’t go any lower, disappointment!!!!” Cisneros wrote. “I will be calling an attorney in the am.”
Twitter later flagged Trump’s video as “manipulated media.”
The original version of the video, which went viral last year, was filmed by Cisneros. It showed his son, Maxwell, and his white best friend Finnegan, spontaneously running toward each other and hugging on a New York City street:
“They just took off toward each other and I just got my phone out as quickly as possible, and just tried to record it,” Cisneros said of the two boys, who are now both 3 and live in the same neighborhood. “They are just too cute together.”
Cisneros told WPIX-TV he shared the video publicly because he thought it was a beautiful, candid moment in the midst of racism and hate in the world. Maxwell and Finnegan later appeared with their parents on the Ellen Degeneres Show:
In the fake version of the video tweeted by Trump, Maxwell is initially shown running away from Finnegan — in footage from after they hugged — with a fake CNN chyron saying, “Terrified toddler runs from racist baby,” which then switches to, “Racist baby probably a Trump voter.”
After a title screen saying, “What actually happened,” Maxwell and Finnegan are shown running toward each other and hugging. (Note: Twitter has now disabled the video.)
“America is not the problem,” reads another title screen at the end. “Fake news is. If you see something, say something. Only you can prevent fake news dumpster fires.”
The fake video reportedly was created by pro-Trump comedian Carpe Donktum, whose real name is Logan Cook.
CNN Communications responded to Trump’s tweet: “CNN did cover this story – exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better.”
CNN did cover this story – exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better. https://t.co/T1nBtejZta— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) June 19, 2020
The White House criticized Twitter for labeling the video “manipulated.”
“If Twitter is not careful, it’s going to have to label itself a ‘manipulator,’” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email to the Washington Post.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also defended the fake video in a briefing on Friday:
Earlier this month, Maxwell and Finnegan were included in CNN’s town hall in collaboration with Sesame Street, focused on kids and racism:
“I didn’t see it at the time, but I see it now,” Cisneros told Today.com following the town hall. “It was a beacon of hope. It shows love and what the future could be like if children were raised in a different way … It’s going to be kind of iconic. I’ve gotten messages from people all around the world.”