Videos Vanish From Doug Mastriano’s Social Media, on Climate, Abortion and More

The videos were a sort-of virtual ride-along with Doug Mastriano as he crisscrossed Pennsylvania in the governor’s race, regaling viewers with his far-right musings about climate change, abortion and critics within his own party.

In one live broadcast on Facebook in April, Mr. Mastriano, a Republican state senator, referred to climate change as “pop science.”

In a separate video on his social media from a radio interview, three days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, he dismissed the issue of abortion rights as a distraction. And when trying to explain in April why some Republicans would not support him, Mr. Mastriano, a retired Army colonel, attributed it to their “disdain for veterans.”

But now that Mr. Mastriano is the G.O.P. nominee for governor, having been helped by the endorsement of former President Donald J. Trump in the primary, he is shifting to the general election — and those videos have vanished.

The removal of the videos from his campaign’s Facebook page was reported earlier on Monday by The Philadelphia Inquirer, which listed 14 videos featuring Mr. Mastriano, one of Pennsylvania’s pre-eminent election deniers, that had disappeared since April.

It was not the first time that Mr. Mastriano had drawn scrutiny for what critics say is an effort to tone down his profile on social media. Last year, the group Media Matters for America reported that Mr. Mastriano had deleted more than 50 tweets promoting the conspiracy theory QAnon after Media Matters, a journalism watchdog, highlighted his role in an illegitimate election audit in Pennsylvania.

But the video footage that once resided on Mr. Mastriano’s campaign Facebook page has not vanished entirely. The New York Times obtained the clips on Monday from American Bridge, a liberal group specializing in opposition research that archived them.

A campaign spokesman for Mr. Mastriano denied in a statement on Monday that he had scrubbed his social media accounts of the videos.

“The biased mainstream media is trying to manufacture a scandal, but they haven’t done their homework,” said the spokesman, who declined to provide his name but was responding from a campaign email address. “The videos in question were automatically deleted by Facebook after 30 days because of a default Facebook setting.”

One of the videos that disappeared was less than 30 days old and was recorded on June 27. And a review of Mr. Mastriano’s Facebook page on Monday showed dozens of Facebook Live videos older than 30 days. The campaign did not respond to a follow-up question about why those videos still appeared.

At the end of every Facebook Live broadcast, an automatic prompt asks account holders whether they want their video to be deleted after 30 days or remain on their page, according to the social media company.

Critics accused Mr. Mastriano on Monday of trying to distance himself from his extreme views, which they said could alienate voters beyond his far-right political base in the general election against Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor and Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

“Doug Mastriano spends every day trafficking conspiracy theories and reminding voters his top priority is banning abortion with no exceptions,” said Manuel Bonder, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Shapiro. “No amount of clicking the delete button can change the fact that Mastriano is the most extreme, dangerous candidate in Pennsylvania history.”

David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, said on Monday that Mr. Mastriano “can’t delete his extreme positions.”

“He’s completely out of touch with most Pennsylvanians, calling to ban abortions, trafficking insane election conspiracy theories, and denying climate change,” Mr. Turner said.

The Republican Governors Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

In the Facebook Live broadcast on April 6, Mr. Mastriano criticized Gov. Tom Wolf, a term-limited Democrat, for entering Pennsylvania into a regional, multistate compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector that Mr. Mastriano said could cost the state billions.

“For what?” Mr. Mastriano asked rhetorically in the video, assailing Democrats. “For pop science. Let’s talk about climate change. So they’re hellbent on this theory. It’s a theory. It’s not a fact. Heck, the weatherman can’t get the weather right, you know, 24 hours out.”

A link to a video on Mr. Mastriano’s campaign Facebook page said on Monday that the content was no longer available “because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.”

In a Facebook Live video from June 27, Mr. Mastriano recorded himself giving a radio interview in which he accused Democrats of trying to turn attention away from the troubled economy to issues like abortion rights and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (He funded buses to shuttle supporters to the rally before the riot.)

“They want us to focus on this and now on the Roe v. Wade decision instead of dealing with life,” he said in the video, which was also no longer visible on his Facebook page.

Mr. Mastriano’s claim that the issue of reproductive rights was a distraction echoed remarks he made three days earlier in Binghamton, N.Y., where he appeared with Rudolph W. Giuliani and his son, Andrew Giuliani, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for New York governor.

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