White House, CNN feud escalates after Sarah Sanders shares allegedly doctored video
The video shows an altercation with Acosta, who was asking U.S. President Donald Trump a question Wednesday, and an unnamed White House staffer who attempts to take back the microphone.
The staffer can be seen reaching for Acosta’s hand, and trying to pull the microphone from him. Acosta can be seen trying to fend off the staffer — at one point he appears to nudge her arm away from him.
He also said, “pardon me, ma’am” to the staffer.
The encounter was the official reason given for why Acosta’s White House press credentials were removed Wednesday night. CNN said Sanders, who accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman,” lied.
In the doctored video, the nudge is sped up to appear more aggressive, and his comments towards her were inaudible.
Analysis by Storyful showed extra frames that didn’t appear in the C-SPAN broadcast of the encounter.
Sanders tweeted out the doctored video as proof of Acosta’s “inappropriate” behaviour and said the White House stood by its decision to revoke Acosta’s clearance.
“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
The doctored video was posted online around one hour before Sanders’ tweet by Infowars.com contributor Paul Joseph Watson.
Infowars, a right-wing media website, has been banned from Twitter and suspended from Facebook, Youtube, and other platforms for abusive behaviour. Founder Alex Jones has spread conspiracy theories online.
Watson wrote on Infowars that Acosta “clearly uses his left arm to physically resist/restrain the woman.”
In response to the accusation of altering the video, Watson called it a “brazen lie.”
While the two versions of the video are different, it’s unclear whether the change was made intentionally — Watson said all he did was “zoom in on the original” video from the Daily Wire.
Buzzfeed says that converting to a GIF format, which is the format in the video by the Daily Wire, reduces the frame rate which could be the reason for the extra frames.
However, analysis by Storyful says the Infowars and C-Span video were both set to play at 29.97 frames, while the Daily Wire gif has a lower frame rate.
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Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, told The Washington Post videos like this are fodder for the spread of misinformation.
“The most dangerous type of fake news and reporting and evidence is when you get into the fine details, the nuanced things that are shaped to present a certain viewpoint or decision or news a certain way,” Albright told the Post.
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“It’s not AI-generated or completely false. It’s something that’s real but has been literally stretched … and molded into weaponized evidence.”
CNN issued a statement in response to Acosta’s access being denied, saying that Sanders “lied.”
“[Sanders] provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened,” the statement read. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better.”
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