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Political Notebook

Trump tweets a meme of himself fiddling, drawing a comparison to Roman emperor Nero

President Trump tweeted this image of himself on Sunday.
President Trump tweeted this image of himself on Sunday.

President Trump looked serene as he rested the left side of his face against the violin. The meme showed him with his eyes closed and seemingly relaxed playing the instrument amid mounting concerns of the global spread of the novel coronavirus.

‘‘My next piece is called,’’ the meme said in bold white letters, ‘‘nothing can stop what’s coming.’’

When Trump tweeted the image on Sunday night, he said that while he appreciated the sentiment of the meme he was sharing from White House social media director Dan Scavino, he did not exactly understand the meaning behind it.

‘‘Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me!’’ Trump tweeted.

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The symbolism of the image and language, however, was enough for many to form their own conclusions surrounding recent events. Trump sharing the image was looked at by critics as an allusion to the legend of Roman emperor Nero who fiddled as Rome burned around him. Others pointed out that the line ‘‘Nothing can stop what’s coming’’ is a popular phrase linked to the far-right online conspiracy theory QAnon, whose followers have made their fringe presence known at the president’s rallies and have had their content promoted by Trump.

The meme came as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States topped 500 over the weekend, before the Dow sustained heavy losses Monday thanks to a new oil war sparked by the outbreak. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The image reminiscent of Nero trended on Twitter into early Monday, and only intensified when people learned that the president played golf at his club Sunday in West Palm Beach, Fla., with players from the Washington Nationals.

‘‘It means Rome is burning and you’re fiddling around a golf course, Nero,’’ replied Walter Shaub, a Trump critic and former director of the Office of Government Ethics.

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Washington Post

Manipulated Biden video escalates online speech war

A manipulated video featuring Joe Biden and spread by President Trump over the weekend has ratcheted up an online war that has put Twitter and Facebook in the middle of a debate over political speech.

The campaigns have fought for months over misinformation targeting Biden, and the latest salvo has taken on greater import with his surge in the Democratic primaries.

In response to such misinformation, the tech platforms have written new and diverging rules on political speech. On Sunday, Twitter tagged the video in question as manipulated content, while Facebook left the video intact without any flags about the false content.

The video came from a stump speech by Biden on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo., where he appeared to struggle through a sentence and with halting words said, “We can only reelect Donald Trump.”

But the rest of Biden’s sentence was selectively edited out. In full, Biden was stressing the need for Democrats to unite against Trump.

The president’s reelection campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

After users flagged the video to Twitter on Sunday, the company said it had determined the video violated its rules against synthetic and manipulated video and labeled the video as manipulated content. By that point, it had been viewed more than 5 million times and retweeted more than 20,000 times.

It was the first time Twitter had applied a policy announced in February against fake and misleading videos. Facebook, however, did not remove or flag the video as misinformation, angering the Biden campaign. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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New York Times

Ex- presidential candidate Cory Booker endorses Biden

Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, endorsed Joe Biden for president Monday, adding to what has become a nearly complete consolidation of support from Biden’s former top rivals to push him to the Democratic nomination.

Booker’s endorsement comes one day after Senator Kamala Harris of California endorsed Biden, and the two senators will appear with him at a rally in Detroit on Monday night.

Booker will also campaign alongside Biden in Flint, Mich., earlier in the day and attend a fund-raiser with him.

The event in Michigan, which holds its delegate-heavy primary Tuesday, will be yet another public show of moderate Democratic support for the former vice president on the eve of a major vote in the presidential race.

Biden also picked up two major endorsements, as two national gun control advocacy groups — Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign — announced their support.

New York Times