Video appears to have been doctored, says expert

U.S. President Donald Trump points at CNN's Jim Acosta and accuses him of

U.S. President Donald Trump points at CNN's Jim Acosta and accuses him of "fake news" while taking questions during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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 him look more aggressive than he was during an exchange with a White House intern, an independent expert said on Thursday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted the video, which shows Mr. 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 Ms. Sanders appears to have been altered to speed up Mr. 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, Mr. 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 tweeted video also does not have any audio, which Mr. 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,” said Mr. Shapiro, who trains instructors to use video editing software.

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 Mr. Sanders’ characterization of Mr. 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 Mr. Acosta during the news conference and tweeted that he did not see Mr. 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.

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.

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 Mr. Acosta has been one of the more visible thorns in the side of the White House. During their verbal altercation on Wednesday, Mr. Trump called Acosta a “terrible person.”

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 3:38:00 AM |

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