White House used ‘doc­tored’ footage of press con­fer­ence row, ex­pert says

The Dominion Post - - World -

When Don­ald Trump in­vited Jim Acosta, a CNN re­porter, to ask a ques­tion dur­ing a White House press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day, he was no doubt spoil­ing for a fight.

Trump has a no­to­ri­ously testy re­la­tion­ship with the jour­nal­ist and once re­fused to call on him, sim­ply say­ing ‘‘your [news] or­gan­i­sa­tion is ter­ri­ble’’.

But even the pres­i­dent could not have an­tic­i­pated the row that erupted af­ter their most re­cent ex­change, with ac­cu­sa­tions the White House shared ma­nip­u­lated footage of the in­ci­dent.

The row be­gan af­ter Acosta pressed Trump to an­swer a ques­tion, while a White House in­tern tried to take the mi­cro­phone out of his hand.

The in­ter­ac­tion was brief, and Acosta ap­peared to brush the in­tern’s arm as she reached for the mi­cro­phone and he tried to hold on to it. ‘‘Pardon me, ma’am,’’ he told her.

Hours later Sarah San­ders, the White House press sec­re­tary, ac­cused Acosta of ‘‘plac­ing his hands on a young woman just try­ing to do her job as a White House in­tern’’.

She added that it was ‘‘ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able’’. She later posted footage of the in­ci­dent, which video ver­i­fi­ca­tion ex­perts claimed had been dig­i­tally al­tered, as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for re­vok­ing Acosta’s White House press pass.

An­a­lysts claimed that in San­ders’ ver­sion, the footage was frozen for three frames to make Acosta’s con­tact with the woman ap­pear longer and there­fore more ag­gres­sive.

This can be achieved by re­peat­ing the frames so fast the hu­man eye can­not de­tect it.

By con­trast, in the orig­i­nal footage his arm ap­pears to move only as a re­sponse to the tus­sle. The mo­ment where he says: ‘‘Pardon me, ma’am’’ is also not in­cluded in San­ders’ video.

Alan O’Riordan, a video ver­i­fi­ca­tion ex­pert, said there were clear ‘‘dis­crep­an­cies’’ be­tween the orig­i­nal footage from US net­work C-Span and the ver­sion San­ders posted on Twit­ter.

‘‘In [Mrs San­ders’] ver­sion, what we see is some­thing that has been added to the orig­i­nal, it re­peats sev­eral frames at a cru­cial mo­ment . . . ba­si­cally,’’ he said. ‘‘We found three re­peated frames where you can see Jim Acosta’s arm make con­tact with the in­tern’s arm.’’

The White House has also been ac­cused of ob­tain­ing the footage from In­foWars, the alt-Right con­spir­acy the­o­rist web­site.

Paul Joseph Wat­son, the In­foWars edi­tor-at-large, re­leased what ap­peared to be the same edited footage some time be­fore San­ders’ post.

He de­nied claims the footage had been doc­tored or speeded up, say­ing he ‘‘merely zoomed in’’.

San­ders has not com­mented on how she ob­tained the footage, but said: ‘‘The ques­tion is, did the re­porter make con­tact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our state­ment.’’

Acosta called San­ders’ char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the in­ci­dent ‘‘a lie’’.

CNN said San­ders ‘‘pro­vided fraud­u­lent ac­cu­sa­tions and cited an in­ci­dent that never hap­pened. This un­prece­dented de­ci­sion is a threat to our democ­racy and the coun­try de­serves bet­ter.’’

The cable news net­work claimed the White House had re­voked Acosta’s press pass out of ‘‘re­tal­i­a­tion for his chal­leng­ing ques­tions’’.

Matt Dor­nic, an ex­ec­u­tive at CNN, posted on Twit­ter: ‘‘Ab­so­lutely shame­ful, @PressSec. You re­leased a doc­tored video – ac­tual fake news.’’

Mean­while, US news or­gan­i­sa­tions ral­lied to de­fend Acosta, ac­cus­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of clamp­ing down on press free­dom.

The White House Cor­re­spon­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion said it ‘‘strongly ob­jects’’ to us­ing press cre­den­tials as a ‘‘tool to pun­ish a re­porter with whom it has a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship’’.

– Tele­graph Group cer­e­mony wel­com­ing new Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh, who joined the court last month. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and new act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Matthew Whi­taker were on hand.

Gins­burg has had a series of health prob­lems. She broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with can­cer and had a stent im­planted to open a blocked artery in 2014. She also was hos­pi­talised af­ter a bad re­ac­tion to medicine in 2009.

But she has never missed Supreme Court ar­gu­ments. The court won’t hear ar­gu­ments again un­til No­vem­ber 26.

Rib frac­tures are com­mon among older adults, par­tic­u­larly af­ter falls. The sever­ity de­pends in part on whether the ribs are cracked or bro­ken all the way through, and how many are bro­ken. The ex­tent of Gins­burg’s in­jury was not clear.

A com­plete break re­quires mak­ing sure the two ends are in align­ment, so that a sharp piece of bone doesn’t punc­ture nearby blood ves­sels or or­gans. Bro­ken ribs typ­i­cally heal on their own in six weeks to a month, and pa­tients are ad­vised to limit stren­u­ous ac­tiv­ity. But they can be very painful and con­trol­ling pain is key. A chief com­pli­ca­tion is pneu­mo­nia, when pa­tients don’t breathe deeply enough or cough enough be­cause of the rib pain.

Ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in 1993, Gins­burg re­buffed sug­ges­tions from some lib­er­als that she should step down in the first two years of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­ond term, when Democrats also con­trolled the Se­nate and would have been likely to con­firm her suc­ces­sor.

She al­ready has hired clerks for the term that ex­tends into 2020, in­di­cat­ing she has no plans to re­tire.

Gins­burg leads the court’s lib­eral wing. –AP


CNN’s Jim Acosta leans away as a White House aide tries to take the mi­cro­phone from him dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in the East Room of the White House.

Ruth Bader Gins­burg

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