- The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is accused of sharing a misleading video of CNN’s Jim Acosta from the conspiracy-theory website Infowars.
- A White House intern tried to take the microphone from Acosta during a heated exchange between the reporter and President Donald Trump at a press conference on Wednesday, and the White House – with no evidence – accused Acosta of putting his hands on her.
- The video shared by Sanders appeared edited to make the moment seem more violent.
- Acosta called the accusation that he put his hands on the intern a “lie.”
The White House is accused of using a video of CNN’s Jim Acosta doctored by the conspiracy-theory outlet Infowars as justification for suspending the journalist’s press pass on Wednesday.
Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, was engaged in a tense exchange with President Donald Trump during a press conference at the White House when a White House intern walked up and tried to take the microphone away from him. Acosta held on to the microphone and kept trying to question Trump.
Acosta was holding the microphone in his right hand. At one point, the intern reached under Acosta’s left arm to try to grab the microphone, and he appeared to gently block her with his arm. Here is the moment as broadcast live on NBC:
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
A video shared on Twitter by the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, makes Acosta’s movement appear more violent.
Here is the video shared by Sanders:
We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. pic.twitter.com/T8X1Ng912y
— Kayleigh McEnany 45 Archived (@PressSec45) November 8, 2018
What appears to be the same video was shared two hours earlier by Paul Joseph Watson, the editor-at-large of Infowars.com, a far-right conspiracy outlet whose content has been barred from almost every major tech content distributor, including Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube, generally for violating their policies on hate speech.
"He never once touched her."
That is a complete lie. He clearly did.
Is whatever you're paid by CNN really worth making a total fool out of yourself for the world to see? pic.twitter.com/vgDynDQWJf
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) November 8, 2018
The CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter asked Sanders for the source of the video. “Surely you don’t trust InfoWars…?” he said on Twitter.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 8, 2018
Other Twitter users showed Sanders’ video side-by-side with the original broadcast to argue the one she posted had been doctored.
Further analysis: video is absolutely doctored. You can see the edit when the clips are side by side and slowed down to quarter speed. See for yourself: pic.twitter.com/4ZZrzhislg
— Aymann Ismail (@aymanndotcom) November 8, 2018
Sanders on Thursday said the White House stood by its original statement.
“The question is: did the reporter make contact or not?” Sanders said in a statement distributed to reporters. “The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”
The White House suspended Acosta’s press credentials after the press conference, limiting his access to the White House grounds. Sanders said on Twitter that the White House would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” though no video evidence has so far supported that claim.
Acosta called Sanders’ statement “a lie.”
This is a lie. https://t.co/FastFfWych
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
Acosta told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that he did not “put my hands on her or touch her as they’re alleging.”
“It’s unfortunate the White House is saying this,” he said. “I think I handled myself professionally.”
At the press conference, Acosta had been repeatedly challenging the president’s characterization of a Central American migrant caravan as an invasion.
The White House Correspondents’ Association condemned the suspension of Acosta’s credentials, saying the White House should “immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”