White House Releases Doctored Video, Expels CNN Journalist

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This was the hot topic on my Twitter feed just as I was falling asleep last night, but today is a new day:

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday night shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.

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. Critics said that video — which sped up the movement of Acosta’s arms in a way that dramatically changed the journalist’s response — was deceptively edited to score political points. That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, known for his conspiracy-theory videos on the far-right website Infowars.

Watson said he did not change the speed of the video and that claims he had altered it were a “brazen lie.” But side-by-side comparisons support claims from fact-checkers and experts such as Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, who argued that crucial parts of the video appear to have been speeded up or altered so as to distort the action.

Acosta was refusing to give up the mic because he wanted to ask a followup question, and you can decide for yourself if that demonstrates bad manners. But of course the White House couldn’t just stop there. Sarah Huckabee Sanders revoked Acosta’s press pass, saying they would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern”—a nasty implication that’s plainly untrue. Then she posted the doctored video:

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

It’s subtle, but it does indeed appear to be doctored to make Acosta’s action look more like a deliberate “karate chop.” I wonder how this is being handled over at Fox News? I don’t have the foritude to turn on the TV and find out.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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