An incorrectly subtitled video featuring Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and the Good Book.
The 21-second video offered an exchange unthinkable for a candidate trying to court evangelical voters as he seeks to consolidate support among the Republican establishment: Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) dismissing the Bible. Naturally, after it was posted on a conservative website, it was shared by Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign on the Facebook page of his spokesman Rick Tyler.
In the video, Rubio confidently strolls into a hotel lobby past Rafael Cruz — the father of the senator from Texas — and a man identified as a Cruz staffer reading a book. But not just any book: the Good one. At first, Rubio seemed to appreciate the choice.
“Got a good book there,” Rubio said to the staffer.
“Yes, sir,” the staffer replied. Even those on different sides of a primary could agree on the Bible’s quality, it appeared. But then, the conversation took a strange turn as Rubio seemed to channel the spirit of Christopher Hitchens.
“Not many answers in it,” Rubio said. “Especially that one.” Then, having dropped this anti-Scripture bomb on what looked like a Christian continental breakfast, Rubio split.
“Look, I can see why he would want to poke fun at Cruz’s book because he’s his opponent but to mock the Bible in front of his preacher dad is an unbelievably douchebag thing to do,” the conservative website the Right Scoop wrote. “Was he saying that because Rafael Cruz is Evangelical and he’s Catholic? That seems like small justification to be so snide about the Bible. Good luck with Evangelicals after that, Marco.”
RUBIO WAS CAUGHT SAYING THE BIBLE DOES NOT HAVE ANSWERS! TO ONE OF HIS STAFF WHEN HE SEE IT ON THEIR DESK! SCUM! https://t.co/lRPI3BKZfR
— Nancy (@Nancy007F) February 22, 2016
But it was soon revealed that the video was incorrectly subtitled. The actual exchange:
Rubio: “Got a good book there,” Rubio said to the staffer.
Staffer: “Yes, sir.”
Rubio: “All the answers are in there. Especially in that one.”
With two words, Rubio went from zero to hero. Take a look at the amended video, shared by Rubio’s communications director Alex Conant:
Alas, Tyler, Cruz’s communication’s director, had already run with the original video. Now, faced with the truth, he had to say sorry.
“I want to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today,” Tyler wrote on Facebook. “The story showed a video of the Senator walking past a Ted Cruz staffer seated in the lobby of a hotel reading his Bible. The story misquoted a remark the Senator made to the staffer. I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the Senator made a friendly and appropriate remark. Since the audio was unclear, I should not have assumed the story was correct.”
Tyler also removed his original remarks.
“I’ve deleted the post because I would not knowingly post a false story,” he wrote. “But the fact remains that I did post it when I should have checked its accuracy first. I regret the mistake.”
The Cruz campaign, meanwhile — recently roasted for posting a fake photo of Rubio shaking hands with President Obama — was slammed for its slam.
Think about it. Rubio was trying to exchange pleasantries with Cruz campaign (about the Bible) and they twisted it into an attack.
— Jessica Heddings (@JessicaHeddings) February 21, 2016
But where had the whole story come from?
According to the conservative news site the Independent Journal Review, the Daily Pennsylvanian, a student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania, had started it all with a piece published Saturday. By early Monday, that piece sported an editor’s note: “We have been receiving lots of questions about the contents of this video, and some have disagreed with our transcript. We stand by our original transcript, but the video is here for you to see for yourself and make your own judgement.”
— Daily Pennsylvanian (@dailypenn) February 20, 2016
The newspaper was not immediately available for comment. In other coverage, however, it seemed markedly pro-Cruz, scoring a near-interview with the candidate over the weekend.
“Cruz may have finished behind Trump in the South Carolina primary,” it wrote. “But in terms of friendliness level to a gang of student journalists, he came out on top.”