Did White House Press Secretary post a doctored video on Twitter?

A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm U.S. congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., on November 7, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is under attack for allegedly sharing a doctored video on Twitter, on Wednesday, to prove a point that her office was right in revoking the press pass of CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta.

“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video,” Ms. Sanders had tweeted along with a video of the incident almost three hours after she announced the decision to suspend Mr. Acosta’s pass.


During a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Acosta posed a few questions to U.S. President Donald Trump. Video footages show the news conference didn’t really go well; at a point Mr. Trump is seen saying “that’s enough!” to Mr. Acosta and turning away to take a question from another reporter. When a White House aide tried to unsuccessfully grab the microphone from Mr. Acosta, he says, “Pardon me, ma’am,” and continues to address the President.


Later in the day, Ms. Sanders released a statement accusing Mr. Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” calling it “absolutely unacceptable.” The CNN, in support of their employee, released a statement claiming the White House’s act was a “retaliation for his (Acosta’s) challenging questions.” Mr. Acosta too rubbished Ms. Sanders’ accusations as “a lie”.


Ms. Sanders then posted a video as proof of “inappropriate behaviour” of the CNN correspondent. While she doesn’t mention the source of the video, it is similar to one posted by Paul Joseph Watson, a vlogger who is also part of alt-right website Infowars. In one of his tweets, Mr. Watson claims “Acosta overpowers her (the intern) by pushing her arm down.”


In a response to Ms. Sanders’ tweets, CNN producer Allie Malloy tweeted, “The woman grabbed Jim’s arm repeatedly. He never once touched her.”


Video footages obtained from the news conference, and broadcast by various media houses, clearly shows a physical contact between Mr. Acosta and the intern when she tries to grab the microphone, while he resists. But was the video posted by Ms. Sanders or Mr. Watson “doctored”?

One of the early voices claiming that it was a doctored video came from Rafael Shimunov who says he has edited videos for over 15 years.


The Associated Press got the video assessed by an independent video producer Abba Shapiro. A frame-by-frame comparison with an AP video of the same incident shows that the one tweeted by Ms. Sanders appears to have been altered to speed up Mr. Acosta’s arm movement as he touches the intern’s arm, Mr. Shapiro said, adding that the frames in the tweeted video were frozen to slow down the action, allowing it to run the same length as the AP one.


Tech site too analysed the video frame-by-frame and pointed out portions of the clip — tight close-up shots — were shorter than the earlier shots. Wired also didn’t rule out that it could be due to cut footage. Pointing to a screenshot posted by Mr. Watson, the article shows markings in his editing suite.

Another Twitter user @spdustin explained how a shot “was held for three frames.”


Mr. Watson himself tweeted thet he merely “zoomed in” the video and had to change the format to upload it on Twitter adding that this could be the reason behind the poor quality of his video. But it is unclear as to why Ms. Sanders, the Press Secretary of White House, chose to post a poor-quality video in her defence when she has access to video recordings of better quality.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 12:31:45 AM |

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