White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has been accused of sharing a "doctored" video of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s interaction with a White House intern that resulted in the reporter’s press pass being revoked.
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Acosta's press pass to access the White House was suspended "until further notice" Wednesday, hours after he engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with President Trump. A White House intern attempted to retrieve the microphone from Acosta, but the CNN reporter resisted and asked an additional question – and that’s where things get cloudy.
Sanders said the suspension of his press credentials stemmed from his "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern." She called the behavior "absolutely unacceptable."
The New York Times editorialized in favor of restoring Acosta’s pass, saying it signaled Trump’s view that asking hard questions disqualifies reporters from attending briefings. The newspaper said that if Sanders was so offended by physical contact, “what did she have to say when her boss praised as ‘my kind of guy’ Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, who was sentenced to anger management classes and community service for body-slamming a Guardian reporter last spring?”
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Was the video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta at Trump news conference doctored?
But many high-profile media members, including The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and CNN executive Matt Dornic, have accused Sanders of using a doctored video speeding up Acosta’s arm motion, as evidence.
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“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video,” Sanders tweeted to accompany the allegedly doctored video.
“Yes, the White House press office is sharing a manipulated video that makes it appear that Acosta was menacing the intern when he was not and did not. The intern reached over Acosta to grab the microphone while he was trying to ask another q and Acosta tried to pull away,” Haberman wrote.
The video has quickly become a flashpoint in the battle over viral misinformation, turning a live interaction watched by thousands in real-time into just another ideological tug-of-war. But it has also highlighted how video content – long seen as an unassailable verification tool for truth and confirmation – has become as vulnerable to political distortion as anything else.
"The question is: did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement,” Sanders told Fox News when reached for comment.
Several media members have accused Sanders of using an edited video circulated by Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson. Infowars is known for spreading conspiracy theories and is banned from most social media platforms, but Watson has managed to keep his Twitter account.
Reporters pushed Trump on whether his campaign rhetoric on migrants from Central America was divisive – and on developments in a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
The video allegedly speeds up Acosta’s arm motion to make it appear that he essentially karate chopped the female intern – but Watson has taken to Twitter to defend himself.
Video: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Used Doctored InfoWars Footage to Justify Acosta Ban
Fox News has not yet confirmed whether or not the video is actually doctored, or simply zooms in on the incident. NBC News tweeted its own video of the encounter.
Out Of Line: WH Correspondents Association Blasts Acosta Ban
“The edited video looks authentic: Acosta appeared to swiftly chop down on the arm of an aide as he held onto a microphone while questioning President Trump. But in the original video, Acosta’s arm appears to move only as a response to a tussle for the microphone. His statement, ‘Pardon me, ma’am,’ is not included in the video Sanders shared,” Washington Post technology reporter Drew Harwell wrote.
"I've just been denied entrance to the WH," Acosta tweeted Wednesday night. "Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit."
Sanders confirmed Acosta’s claim and the White House Correspondents’ Association – of which Fox News is a member — quickly released its own statement condemning the decision to revoke Acosta’s credential.
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“We urge the White House to immediately reverse this week and misguided action,” the WHCA wrote. We encourage anyone with doubts that this reaction was disproportionate to the perceived offense to view the video of events.”
It all started when CNN’s Acosta got into a heated debate with Trump after he asked the president about the migrant caravan.
Additionally, Trump never attacked freedom of the press. He has criticized fake news, lies in the media, and partisan press outlets that spread propaganda instead of reporting news. He has never implemented any program or policy to shut down the press, has never taken any action against their liberties — even those who lie for a living.
“Honestly, I think you should let me run the country and you run CNN,” the president said, resulting in the intern attempting to retrieve the microphone.
CNN said Wednesday night that Acosta's suspension "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference" and claimed Sanders "lied" in her explanation of what unraveled.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Acosta's tweet in a statement, claiming the suspension of his press credentials stemmed from his "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern." She called the behavior "absolutely unacceptable."
"This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support," CNN said.
New York (CNN Business)Reporters from many news organizations have expressed support for CNNs Jim Acosta after the White House revoked his press pass.