During the February 25 2020 Democratic debate, Pete Buttigieg said that the United States “can’t afford a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950’s and Bernie Sanders with his nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960’s,” a comment shared by his account on Twitter the same night.
That tweet was later deleted:
Links to Buttigieg’s deleted tweet still lived in the form of retweets with comment, such as the one below:
In that tweet, the user said Buttigieg “came out against the Civil Rights movement,” a sentiment echoed by other users commenting on Buttigieg’s remarks:
Gizmodo’s Matt Novak reported on the tweet’s deletion; he included a link to the Wayback Machine’s archive of the tweet. (At the time we visited the link, it led to a Twitter error page. Novak’s inclusion of the link and others linking to the same archived link suggested that it once displayed the deleted tweet and later became non-functional.)
Another factor indicative that Buttigieg or his team had tweeted and then deleted the tweet involved his actual debate performance. Novak also isolated the segment during which Buttigieg made an identical remark during the live debate, and video of the same segment appeared in tweets:
Unlike most fabricated tweets, Buttigieg’s deleted comment existed in numerous screenshots — not just one. Some had night-mode backgrounds, while others were on a white background, and all had a timestamp of 9:41 PM Eastern Standard Time. A Google search for the tweet’s URL returned several of those screenshots under “images”:
On Twitter, toggling to the “Photos” portion of search again returned several pages of results. In those results, variations in the number of retweets as well as time zone indicated that many users had captured and shared their own screenshots of the same tweet.
On the West Coast, tweets were timestamped at 6:41 local time. Midwest users captured screenshots at 7:41 and 8:41, and the 9:41 tweets were taken by East Coast users:
Finally, the tweet was archived by ProPublica’s Politwoops project, visible here. Buttigieg was accused of deleting a second tweet during the debate, in which he tweeted “[this] is not about coups that were happening in the 1970’s or the 1980’s,” “[this] is about the future,” “[this] is about 2020”:
According to Politwoops, the second tweet was also authentic, and later deleted. The first tweet was deleted after nine minutes, the second after two minutes.
It was clear that Buttigieg tweeted “can’t afford a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950’s and Bernie Sanders with his nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960’s,” later deleting the tweet for unknown reasons along with a second tweet. Buttigieg can also be seen verbally making the remarks featured in the first tweet in the video embedded above.