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.
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.
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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."
Still, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stood by the decision, even going so far as to freeboot a video that emphasized the lone point of physical contact between Acosta and the intern. That video was edited by Paul Joseph Watson, a prominent personality on InfoWars, the conspiracy-theorist outlet whose main beat is the governments alleged poisoning of the water supply in order to make frogs gay. (Seriously.)
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.
“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 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.
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.
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.
“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 have a guess as to who it is but, then again, Im sure you do, too. Everyone is fairly certain that they will be proven right in the long run. Not now, but eventually.
"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.
I dont like it when men touch me, in general, without asking for permission, said co-host Meghan McCain. If I were handing that and some man went like this, I wouldnt like it. Is it assault? I dont think it goes to the level of assault. Is it inappropriate — 100 percent.
“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.
“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.
Co-host Joy Behar said the video shows Acosta pushing her arm away to keep the intern from taking the microphone he was holding, and Hostin explained the legality of the interaction.
"This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support," CNN said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday defended the administrations suspension of Acostas credentials following a tense exchange a day earlier when Acosta refused to yield the microphone to a White House intern during a press conference with the president.
The question is: did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement, Sanders said in a statement Thursday.
Sanders accused Acosta of placing his hands on the female intern, an assertion Acosta vehemently denied, and shared an edited video that had previously been posted by an editor at InfoWars, a conspiratorial website. Sanders was hit by questions of whether the video had been deceptively edited.
[Read: Debate rages over whether Sarah Sanders shared doctored video of Jim Acosta microphone tussle]
In response to the video Sanders tweeted, the White House News Photographers Association said it was appalled to that the White House press secretary may have shared a manipulated video of Acostas interaction with the young woman.
As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth. Its deceptive, dangerous and unethical, Whitney Shefte, the groups president, said in a statement. Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our countrys highest office with vast influence over public opinion.
The move to revoke Acostas press credentials, and the White Houses doubling down, followed what was an escalation of Trumps rhetoric against the media during Wednesdays press conference, rhetoric some hoped he would soften after Democrats took control of the House on Tuesday.
During the lengthy — his longest to date — and free-wheeling press conference at the White House, the president launched a broadside against the larger media but delivered personal attacks on specific reporters.
The president then chided multiple reporters during the course of the event, including the contentious back-and-forth with Acosta.
Honestly, I think you should let me run the country; you run CNN, Trump told Acosta. And if you did it well, your ratings would be much higher.
As Acosta began to ask another question of the president, a White House intern appeared to take away the microphone, which Acosta did not let her do.
Thats enough. Put down the mic, Trump told Acosta. Ill tell you what: CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldnt be working for CNN. … Youre a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldnt treat people that way.
CNN defended Acosta after the press conference, saying Trumps ongoing attacks on the media are dangerous and disturbingly un-America.
After Peter Alexander, a White House correspondent for NBC News, came to Acostas defense, Trump said he is “not a big fan of yours either.”
Then, when April Ryan, a correspondent with American Urban Radio Networks, tried to ask Trump a question about voter suppression, the president told her to sit down.
Excuse me, Im not responding to you, Trump told Ryan. Im talking to this gentleman. Will you please sit down?
One of the most notable exchanges the president had Wednesday was in response to a question posed by Yamiche Alcindor, a White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, who asked about Trumps characterization of himself as a nationalist and whether it emboldened white nationalists.
I know you have it written down, and youre going to tell me, Trump told Alcindor, who is African-American. Let me tell you: Its a racist question.
The president has long come under scrutiny for his tone toward the media, which he has called fake news and the enemy of the people. At rallies, Trump often points to the reporters as his supporters chant “fake news” and “CNN sucks.” Republicans have alleged liberal bias in the media for decades, but Trump has been notably combative in his relations with the media.
Trump told reporters he believes that any lowering of the volume would start not with him, but with the press.
If you would cover, and there was a very interesting story written in a very good paper recently that talked about the fact that it isnt good what the media is doing, and that I do have the right to fight back because Im treated very unfairly, he said. So I do fight back. And Im fighting back not for me; Im fighting back for the people of this country.