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On February 12 this year the organizers of the Subversive Festival 2013 in Zagreb, Croatia, uploaded a video to YouTube showing a speech of Yanis Varoufakis, who is now the Greek minister of finance. In the video he seems to show his middle finger:

Yanis Varoufakis showing his middle finger

On Sunday Varoufakis claimed in a German TV show that the video was doctored, causing a huge uproar in the German media. The video was analyzed by journalists all claiming the video is real.

Yesterday evening another German TV show uploaded a video claiming they indeed faked the finger (English subtitles available), including a quite convincing making-of:

Neo Magazin faking video

Now which is the real version?

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    Welcome to Skeptics! What sort of evidence would it take to convince you, either way? – Oddthinking Mar 19 '15 at 10:42
  • @Oddthinking Honestly I don't know. Statements of the people involved don't carry much weight. The best bet would be maybe an analysis of the two (actually three) different versions (shown in the last video). Maybe some of them contain evidence of editing? – neo Mar 19 '15 at 10:54
  • @georgechalhoub Yes, that is a good point. Let the story develop for a while. – The very fluffy Panda Mar 19 '15 at 11:36
  • @Oddthinking - this is 2013. Surely there is a high likelyhood of other people with smartphones recording this, so either supporting or contradictory video is plausible to find. (personally, i don't quite understand what the notability is - what, is it somehow important that a person is capable of showing the finger in terms of their professional qualifications?) – user5341 Mar 19 '15 at 14:41
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    Just for reference: kurier.at/kultur/medien/warum-varoufakis-stinkefinger-echt-ist/… analyzed both videos shown in the making of and concludes that the one showing the finger is real. – Nobody Mar 19 '15 at 21:10
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No, the video is real, but it was taken out of context.

The second German TV-Show is a well known satire show, and they freely admit from 8.06 to 8.30 in their video (German with English subtitles), presumably for legal reasons, that their doctoring is a joke. He follows up criticizing Günther Jauch, the host of the first TV show, for taking Varoufakis' gesture out of context in order to stir anger for populist reasons. Here are is the subtitle transcript from the time range above:

Dear editorial staff of Günther Jauch, Yanis Varoufakis is wrong, you did not falsify the footage. You simply took it out of context and gave him the runaround, so that the average german could pursue their passion for being angered. "Foreigner. Out of Europe you go! He's poor and takes our money! That's just not possible! We are the bosses in here!" That's what you did. The rest is our effort.

Further, Varoufakis posted a link to a version of the entire clip he considers authentic. The clip contains some very intelligent analysis of the situation, and provides ample context. However, the finger is clearly visible.

While the finger is clearly a colorful element of style, context suggests he is using it to protest how the German government's plan benefits greek and german banks at the expense of greek and german taxpayers, a claim which is undisputed. Der Spiegel writes, in a slightly edited Google translation of the article summary:

Varoufakis' thesis is that the Troika aid was not an act of solidarity of European citizens and taxpayers with the Greek people, but an act of self-help of the European financial sector at the expense of EU citizens. This thesis can not simply be dismissed out of hand. Reason enough to call the self-righteousness German Wutbürger (anger-driven citizens) into question.

Why Varoufakis attempted to counter Jauch's attack with the doctoring claim, rather than pointing out that he was taken out of context, is unclear. The simplest explanation, in the opinion of the answerer, is that he is inexperienced at dealing with attacks on his character, has no access to expensive political advisors to train him, was taken by surprise, and is now forced to roll with it.

It looks like the host of the satire show is actively helping to seed doubt about the video's authenticity in order to support Varoufakis by using ambigious language and tonality while technically stating the truth. Here is a translation of a recently uploaded statement:

Our video is 100% real. Whoever claims the opposite is a liar. As an apology and gesture of goodwill towards our European friends, Günther Jauch and the Bild newspaper's editorial staff should immediately to leave the Euro zone of their own accord. The accusation that our video were a manipulated fake-fake fake-fake-fake has no merit whatsoever. We would never friviously expose a necessary journalistic debate about a two year old middle finger that was taken out of context to ridicule.

Note that the video detailing fakery is indeed a 100% real piece of satire, just as claimed.

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    The section from the video is at best ambiguous about this. As far as I understand it (as a native German speaker) they admit that the Jauch team did not fake the video but that the ZDFNeo team did. It is well in line with a previous action on the TV Total team. Additionally note the highest voted youtube comment on the video linked by Varoufakis himself: 'There is even a signature frame to mark this video as such (a single red frame around 40:10). The same frame also appears in the making-of film by "NEO Magazin Royale".' Which you can verify yourself. – Nobody Mar 19 '15 at 20:37
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    As someone coming to this late, and with insufficient context or German language skills, I find this somewhat bewildering. I wonder if you could add a timeline of the order that things happened, and the claims being made. (cont'd) – Oddthinking Mar 20 '15 at 0:26
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    I think you are saying 1) finger gesture used in 2013, 2) uploaded with red flashes in 2015, 3) used out of context, 4) uproar, 5) confused accusations of doctoring, 6) satirical show doctors two versions to NOT show the finger, claiming them to be the original when they weren't. Is that right? – Oddthinking Mar 20 '15 at 0:27
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    @Housemeister: Yes and then "The rest is our effort." which can mean "We faked the footage." which is after all what the making of is about. However, I give you that they might be deliberately vague to mean both here and to cause even more confusion. I think depending on whether you believe the video is fake or not this sentence confirms both views. But as I see it, it is not claiming that the video is not a fake but stating who is the author of this fake. But then again we cannot really trust anything said in the making of because it is satire. – Nobody Mar 20 '15 at 10:14
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    @Housemeister I agree that you provided ample context. You simply misunderstand and/or misrepresent fundamentally what is being said: you claim that this states that the video is not faked. This is false, the passage does not state that at all. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 23 '15 at 9:43

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