The White House has been accused of sharing a doctored video of reporter Jim Acosta’s exchange with a female intern during a press room clash with Donald Trump this week, sparking outrage online.
In his first press conference since the Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives, Trump lashed out at the CNN reporter when he refused to sit down and give up his microphone on the US leader’s orders.
It led to one of the president’s female interns trying to take the microphone off Acosta and while the exchange between the pair appeared innocent – with Acosta even saying “Pardon me, ma’am” as he brushed his hand against her arm while gesturing towards the president – the White House press secretary later made a sensational claim on Twitter that Acosta had behaved “inappropriately”.
Acosta was banned from attending any further press events inside the White House just hours later, with press secretary Sarah Sanders claiming on Twitter it was because he had “placed his hands on the young woman”, before branding it “unacceptable” and “disrespectful”.
Sanders then shared a video which zooms in on the moment the intern tried to take the microphone off the reporter. She wrote alongside it: “We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior [sic] clearly documented in this video.”
However, she has now been accused by fellow Twitter users of sharing an edited version of the original footage which appears to exaggerate Acosta’s arm actions, making it look more like he’s making a chopping motion.
Indeed, the video appears to show Acosta making a faster downward motion with his hand – something video analysts claim has changed since the original footage went live.
News website Storyful carried out its own analysis of the new video, claiming the version Sanders shared repeats several frames that do not appear in the original footage.
Meanwhile, video editor Rafael Shimunov shared his own evaluation on Twitter, too. Having tinted the clip red, he then placed it over a transparent version of the original and insisted it showed that the clip had been “sped up to make Jim Acosta’s motion look like a chop”.
Sanders’ video was initially shared by Infowars editor and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson, who has since denied editing it in any way. He tweeted: “1) The video was not ‘doctored’ by me – all I did was zoom in on the original from the Daily Wire. I did not ‘speed up’ anything. The screenshot from Sony Vegas Pro here proves that.
“2) I am not a ‘white supremacist’. 3) Retract these lies.”
1) The video was not "doctored" by me – all I did was zoom in on the original from the Daily Wire. I did not 'speed up' anything. The screenshot from Sony Vegas Pro here proves that.
2) I am not a "white supremacist".
3) Retract these lies. pic.twitter.com/XHghtziCMo
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) November 8, 2018
CNN executive Matt Dornic has also accused the White House of sharing a doctored video on Twitter, writing: “Absolutely shameful, @PressSec. You released a doctored video – actual fake news. History will not be kind to you.”
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman also hit out at Sanders, writing: “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.”
When contacted by Fox News for comment, Sanders reportedly said in a statement: “The question is: did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”
Starts at 60 cannot confirm if the video has been edited in any way, and the White House is yet to respond to the claims.
It comes after Acosta’s tense row with Trump in the press room this week, which all started when Acosta asked if the President had “demonised immigrants” during the mid-terms campaign. Trump replied: “No, I want them to come into the country. But they have to come in legally.”
As it became more heated, Trump lashed out saying: “I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”