The White House revoked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s hard pass Wednesday evening, after President Trump berated him as a “rude, terrible person” at a press conference earlier in the day. Acosta said he had also been banned from White House grounds.
Within hours, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders began twisting the story, claiming the White House would not tolerate a reporter “placing his hands on a young woman,” referring to an aide who had tried to pull a microphone from Acosta’s hands during the press conference.
Video of the incident clearly shows the aide in question attempting to yank the mic away multiple times, as Acosta tries to finish asking a question. “Pardon me, ma’am,” he he can be heard saying on the third attempt, as the two make brief contact.
Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large for the conspiracy site Infowars, later posted what appeared to be a slightly doctored version of the video. Unlike the original clip, it appears to show Acosta forcing his hand down on the aide’s arm:
"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
Sanders later appeared to share the doctored video on her own Twitter timeline, using it to justify the White House decision to pull Acosta’s credentials.
“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass,” she wrote. “We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
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
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
Numerous video editors have since weighed in with their own expertise on Twitter, demonstrating how the video Sanders shared could have been doctored. The Indepedent’s analysis of the doctored editing describes the video as being frozen for three frames the moment before Acosta’s hand comes down on the aide’s arm.
1) Took @PressSec Sarah Sanders' video of briefing
2) Tinted red and made transparent over CSPAN video
3) Red motion is when they doctored video speed
4) Sped up to make Jim Acosta's motion look like a chop
5) I've edited video for 15+ years
6) The White House doctored it pic.twitter.com/q6arkYSx0V
— Rafael Shimunov 🔥 (@rafaelshimunov) November 8, 2018
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
White house press video versus NBC footage. It certainly does look like they've doctored it to make it look more violent. I also like how the White house one is gloomier colours to make it more sinister. pic.twitter.com/WHtufgxejK
— HappyToast ★ (@IamHappyToast) November 8, 2018
Watson, for his part, denies that he “sped up the footage,” claiming that all that he did was zoom in on the original video. He credited another conservative site, The Daily Wire, as his source for the footage.
CNN stood by Acosta, issuing a statement Wednesday night accusing Sanders of having “provided fraudulent accusations and cit[ing] an incident that never happened.”
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018
The White House Correspondents’ Association also condemned the White House’s decision to revoke Acosta’s access, urging it to “immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”