White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been accused by media critics of using doctored video footage of CNN’s Jim Acosta that was previously promoted by the conspiracy-oriented website InfoWars to justify the revoking of Acosta’s press privileges at the White House.
“Where’d you obtain the distorted
@Acosta video you posted?,” CNN media reporter Brian Stelter tweeted early Thursday. “InfoWars personality @PrisonPlanet posted the same video two hours before you did. Surely you don’t trust InfoWars…?”
Late Wednesday, Sanders doubled down on the decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials, sharing a video of an incident between Acosta and a White House intern which she said showed his “inappropriate” behavior.
“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass,” said Sanders in a tweet that did not mention Acosta by name. “We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. pic.twitter.com/T8X1Ng912y
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
Careful observers however said the video was stealthily sped up during a moment when Acosta and the unnamed intern tussled for the microphone, thus making his movements look more like a calculated attack.
“This video is doctored,” EW writer Dana Schwartz tweeted. “It’s slowed down and then sped up at the moment Acosta’s hand comes down to make it look like he’s doing a karate chop or something. This is shameful propaganda. It’s Orwellian.”
“Absolutely shameful, @PressSec. You released a doctored video – actual fake news,” Matt Dornic, CNN’s vice president of communications and digital partnerships, tweeted Thursday — with footage of the incident in both real time and half time suggesting that any physical contact between Acosta and the intern was inadvertent and brief. “History will not be kind to you.”
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) November 8, 2018
Speaking to White House pool reporters on Thursday, Sanders defended her tweet. “The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not?” she said. “The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”
But Reuters reporter Jeff Mason — who was seated next to Acosta at Wednesday’s press conference — said he “did not witness him ‘placing his hands’ on the young intern, as the White House alleges. He held on to the microphone as she reached for it.”
I was seated next to @Acosta at today’s press conference and did not witness him “placing his hands” on the young intern, as the White House alleges. He held on to the microphone as she reached for it. The @Reuters pictures below depict what happened accurately. pic.twitter.com/nO68Hf4eQM
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) November 8, 2018
The video is identical to one shared by InfoWars number 2 man, Paul Joseph Watson, which has a zoom in on the critical moment. Both Watson and his company have a long history of spreading conspiracy theories and fake news on social media and elsewhere.
“He never once touched her.”
That is a complete lie. He clearly did.
Is whatever you’re paid by CNN really worth making a total fool out of yourself for the world to see? pic.twitter.com/vgDynDQWJf
– Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) November 8, 2018
On Wednesday, President Trump sharply escalated his war with CNN after publicly lambasting White House correspondent Jim Acosta during an East Wing press conference.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” the president said as Acosta stammered. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. The way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
Trump almost appeared ready to leave the stage as Acosta refused to surrender his mic to the intern, precipitating the larger imbroglio. Later that evening, Acosta was denied entry onto the White House for an evening live shot for CNN, posting a video of a secret service officer telling him he was barred from the premises and taking his credentials.
The US Secret Service just asked for my credential to enter the WH. As I told the officer, I don’t blame him. I know he’s just doing his job. (Sorry this video is not rightside up) pic.twitter.com/juQeuj3B9R
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
Sanders and the White House zeroed in on the incident with the intern as the proximate cause of their decision. In a series of fiery statements, however, CNN said the accusations against Acosta from the White House were a “lie” and that they stood by their man 100 percent.
“The White House announced tonight that it has revoked the press pass of CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. t was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” said the network. “In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lies. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has out full support.”
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018