VIDEO: Media Colleagues Outraged White House Shared ‘Doctored’ Footage of CNN’s Acosta Touching Female Staffer

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A video distributed by the Trump administration to support its argument for banning CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House appears to have been doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was during an exchange with a White House intern, an independent expert said Thursday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted the video, which shows Acosta asking President Donald Trump a question on Wednesday as the intern tries to take his microphone away. But a frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the same incident shows that the one tweeted by Sanders appears to have been altered to speed up Acosta’s arm movement as he touches the intern’s arm, according to Abba Shapiro, an independent video producer who examined the footage at AP’s request.

Earlier, Shapiro noticed that frames in the tweeted video were frozen to slow down the action, allowing it to run the same length as the AP one.

The alteration is “too precise to be an accident,” said Shapiro, who trains instructors to use video editing software.

The tweeted video also does not have any audio, which Shapiro said would make it easier to alter. It’s also unlikely the differences could be explained by technical glitches or by video compression — a reduction in a video’s size to enable it to play more smoothly on some sites — because the slowing of the video and the acceleration that followed are “too precise to be an accident.

Sanders, who hasn’t said where the tweeted video came from, noted that it clearly shows Acosta made contact with the intern. In her statement announcing Acosta’s suspension, she said the White House won’t tolerate “a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job.”

While the origin of the manipulated video is unclear, its distribution marked a new low for an administration that has been criticized for its willingness to mislead.

The White House News Photographers Association decried the sharing of the footage.

“As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth,” said Whitney Shefte, the association’s president. “It’s deceptive, dangerous and unethical. Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country’s highest office with vast influence over public opinion.”

CNN has labeled Sanders’ characterization of Acosta’s exchange with the intern as a lie. Its position has been supported by witnesses including Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason, who was next to Acosta during the news conference and tweeted that he did not see Acosta place his hands on the White House employee. Rather, he said he saw him holding on to the microphone as she reached for it.

“The irony of this White House video involving Jim Acosta is that if it is found to be doctored, it will show the administration to be doing what it accuses the news media of doing — engaging in fake information,” said Aly Colon, a professor in journalism ethics at Washington & Lee University.

Several journalists and organizations — including the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Online News Association — demanded Acosta’s press pass be reinstated.

“It is the essential function of a free press in every democracy to independently gather and report information in the public interest, a right that is enshrined in the First Amendment,” said Julie Pace, AP’s Washington bureau chief. “We strongly reject the idea that any administration would block a journalist’s access to the White House.”

The New York Times editorialized in favor of restoring Acosta’s pass, saying it signaled Trump’s view that asking hard questions disqualifies reporters from attending briefings. The newspaper said that if Sanders was so offended by physical contact, “what did she have to say when her boss praised as ‘my kind of guy’ Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, who was sentenced to anger management classes and community service for body-slamming a Guardian reporter last spring?”

CNN has been a frequent target of the president, who has characterized journalists as enemies of the people and who routinely accuses the mainstream media of spreading “fake news.” And Acosta has been one of the more visible thorns in the side of the White House. During their verbal altercation on Wednesday, Trump called Acosta a “terrible person.”

Still, it’s rare for the White House to pull the so-called hard passes from journalists.

During Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, the Secret Service denied clearance to Robert Sherrill, a reporter for The Nation who had gotten into physical fights with government officials. During the George W. Bush presidency, Trude Feldman, who worked for various news outlets, was suspended for 90 days after security cameras recorded her looking through a press aide’s desk late one night. In the 1970s, President Nixon tried to get Washington Post reporters banned from the White House.

Despite losing his White House pass, Acosta is expected to travel to Paris this weekend to cover Trump’s trip to meet with world leaders.

(AP)




16 COMMENTS

  1. I thought the issue is the president repeatdelytold the reporter to sit down and the reporter insisted on keeping askingquestionsfor a while and not stopping very rudely and disruptively

  2. I believe he was out of line of line but I’m also for first time ashamed of this White House if they purposely edited the video.
    The article listed many reporters suspended by past president but missed the one suspended by Obama a move that was praised by the media.
    Is sad that the White House had to lie when they were right without the lie

  3. Shkoyach. This is the same exact media that doctored footage of smoke plumes rising over Gaza during an Israeli war. It’s the same media that provides half-truths and out right lies 24/7. If only they had a shred of integrity left I might on their side. Since they don’t, all I can say is good job to Sanders for fighting fire with fire.

  4. that certainly wasn’t any form of harassment but when you are looking for a reason to get a guy out, so the fact that he did not heed the president who said that it is enough, is enough to get him banned.

  5. Whether he pushed her slowly or quickly it’s highly inappropriate and just plain wrong. Liberals who are supposedly all into women’s rights should practice what they preach.

  6. Lately it appears that aside from a news items about cholila a blatant assault on a female, anything and everything else is important for the frum yeshiva world to read about. Bar shootings, whether or not someone touched a female intern, the testimony of what Judge Kavanaugh did or didn’t do 36 years ago. The list seems to go on endlessly.
    Do you have any halachic guidelines on these things.? Someone to consult before publishing a news story? I have understood that a frum website is supposed to shield its readers from the world’s pervasive shmutz. If we are getting more and more of these unsavory news items, what then, is the purpose of having a frum website altogether? Reporting a Melave Malka in Belz, a hesped in Mir, or that Rav Chaim Kanievsky promises yeshuos for those who contribute to this or that tzadaka initiative — does not justify informing us all about the rest of the unsavory stuff. “Yes, but people want to know, in fact — have a right to know what’s going on the world!” you will reply. So, in that case, why read YWN? The NYT and Post websites provide even MORE such news. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I was under the impression that the frum readers of YWN WANT to be shielded from the shmutz. Perhaps some clearer definitions and guidelines would be a good idea?

  7. Who cares if he touched her or not, he was not giving up the mike as requested by the President and this isn’t the first time this nasty publicity-seeking jerk has been out of line.He should have been banned from the White House long ago!

  8. Slowing down frames to enable you to see what happened is not considered doctored video. Isn’t that done is sports and crime?
    Regardless whether he did or did not touch the reporter, he needs to be barred due to his disrespect disregard insubordinate behavior in the country’s sanctum.

    He is not a true journalist. He lectured the president rather than simply ask questions. His disrespect to his colleagues is appalling.

    Though when the White House released the clip they should have said that the frames were slowed down to clarify what he did. If you slow down the AP video, will it show the same thing?

  9. I’m wondering if there is technology that would permit them to turn off the wireless microphones remotely rather than depending on the mercy of the reporters to ask only one question each with no follow up questions permitted at the presidents will?

  10. What we need is for the intern to t3stify that she felt accosted by Acosta, in fact that she felt he might “accidentally kill her.” Followed by a string of DEMOCRATIC senators passionately exclaiming that they believe her.

  11. Acosta is an activist not a reporter. CNN should know better if they think themselves as a news organization or a political arm of the democrats?
    They should be hiring reporters who are unbiased and report the news not activists.

  12. He was told to shut up, and refused to give up the mike. Speed it up, slow it, reverse it…. duzn’t matter.
    He put his hand on her, wasn’t interested in answer , only to disparage our prez. This selfish nobody wanted to hog , wasn’t interested in giving time to colleagues…. What a repugnant excuse for a human being. The entire world saw him slapping a woman.

  13. This whole story proves once again how phony the #MeToo movement really is. Their silence in this case is deafening. When Rick Lazio came within Hillary’s daled amos during their Senate debate, the leftist feminists went crazy. This is all about getting the Republicans. The Democrats have free reign to do whatever is necessary to get their way, legal or not. Case #1: Florida Senate race

  14. Beyond our means, yes the mike could have been remotely switched off. In the genuine video of this event you can see the intern being sent down to the reporter. At a time when most of America is sick and tired of the presidents continued lies and exaggerations, faking a video is not justified under any circumstances. This morning he was advocating for banning yet another reporter from the WH. He’s already identified his version of Pravda when on 11/5 he had Fox news personalities stumping for him.