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John Fetterman’s office has been doctoring quotes to hide his speech problems

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 19, 2023

Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who suffered a stroke a year ago, has been at the center of controversy due to his struggle with speaking and cognitive issues during Senate hearings. Amid these challenges, it has been discovered that his office has been modifying his statements to make them appear more coherent.

Despite the senator's office's insistence that Fetterman is coping well, except for auditory processing difficulties, they have been quietly altering his comments, as reported by Fox News.

This issue came to light when Jeff Stein, a Washington Post economics reporter, confessed to sharing a misquote provided by Fetterman's office, which significantly changed the senator's actual words.

Stein's Tweet Sparks Controversy

Stein faced criticism for tweeting a quote from Fetterman directed at Greg Becker, former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank. The quote read, "Shouldn't you have a working requirement after we bail out your bank? Republicans seem to be more preoccupied with SNAP requirements for hungry people than protecting taxpayers that have to bail out these banks." However, Fetterman's actual comments were less coherent, leaving the witness speechless.

"The Republicans want to give a work requirement for SNAP," Fetterman said. "You know, for a uh, uh, uh, a hungry family has to have these, this kind of penalties, or these some kinds of word — working uh, require — Shouldn’t you have a working requirement, after we sail your bank, billions of your bank? Because you seem we were preoccupied, uh when, then SNAP requirements for works, for hungry people, but not about protecting the tax, the tax papers, you know, that will bail them out of whatever does about a bank to crash it."

While reporters often omit filler words when transcribing remarks, the drastic alterations to Fetterman's words in Stein's tweet left observers shocked. Stein later deleted his initial tweet, admitting that he had received the quote from Fetterman's office but failed to verify it against the video. He acknowledged his mistake, stating, "Though it captured his meaning, I deleted the tweet once some of the words in the quote were inaccurate."

A Pattern of Altered Statements

However, this incident of Fetterman's office significantly modifying his quotes is not an isolated event. A review by Fox News Digital of remarks posted on his congressional website compared to the corresponding video of the hearings revealed a pattern of such alterations.

The review found that Fetterman's office has drastically changed his comments several times since his return to Capitol Hill in mid-April following a weeks-long absence due to depression. His first subcommittee hearing since his return drew online attention, but his office only posted a link to his closing remarks without transcription.

Discrepancies in Quoted Statements

A subsequent hearing on April 26 quoted Fetterman discussing Pennsylvania's Whole-Home Repairs program.

"I come from a community here, in Braddock, Pennsylvania, where your home can go bad really quickly. And I’m really excited that we can take something like that, which is happening in Pennsylvania, and take it federal."

However, the actual words spoken by Fetterman, as per the linked video, were significantly different.

"I come from a community down in Braddock, Pennsylvania, where there's a lot of — your home can go bad quickly if you were having those kinds — so I'm a big — you know — I'm incredibly, I think I'm excited that could take from Pennsylvania and go federal."

In another hearing referenced on the website, Fetterman was quoted discussing weed legalization at a banking hearing. However, the actual words spoken by Fetterman differed considerably from the quote provided on his website.

The third instance of his office altering his comments involved the quote provided to Stein that sparked the controversy.

Fetterman's Health Struggles

After spending over a month in a hospital for clinical depression treatment, Fetterman revealed that his depression was "in full force" during his initial weeks in the Senate. Fetterman had a stroke in May 2022 while campaigning for the Pennsylvania Senate race, which led to auditory processing issues and depression.

Fetterman likened his only midterm debate against Dr. Mehmet Oz to "trying to run a marathon with a broken ankle." During the debate, Fetterman was allowed to use a closed captioning system to read the questions.

Office's Response

Despite these revelations, Fetterman's office has not responded to a request for comment on the altered comments. This situation raises questions about the transparency and authenticity of public statements made by political figures and the office's response.