White House, amid out­cry, stands by its edited video

The Capital - - ANNE ARUNDEL - By Eli Stokols Los An­ge­les Times

WASH­ING­TON — A day af­ter re­vok­ing the press cre­den­tials of CNN’s chief White House cor­re­spon­dent, Jim Acosta, the White House stood by its de­ci­sion as crit­ics as­sailed it both for falsely ac­cus­ing him of mis­treat­ing an in­tern at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s news con­fer­ence and for dis­sem­i­nat­ing a doc­tored video of the in­ci­dent.

Unedited video shows Acosta, who was at­tempt­ing to ques­tion the pres­i­dent, grip­ping a mi­cro­phone as a fe­male in­tern tried to pry it away dur­ing the Wed­nes­day event, and say­ing po­litely, “Ex­cuse me, ma’am,” as he ma­neu­vered to keep his hold. White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders later tweeted a shorter clip in which the speed was al­tered to make Acosta ap­pear to chop hard at her arm.

Un­der fire for man­u­fac­tur­ing a ra­tio­nale to deny Acosta ac­cess to the White House com­plex, San­ders on Thurs­day re­fused to back down, even as the video she shared was re­ported to have come from the right-wing con­spir­acy web­site In­fowars.com.

“The ques­tion is: Did the re­porter make con­tact or not?” she said in a state­ment. “The video is clear, he did. We stand by our state­ment.”

In its orig­i­nal state­ment Wed­nes­day night an­nounc­ing the in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion of Acosta’s pass, the White House said it would “never tol­er­ate a re­porter plac­ing his hands on a young woman just try­ing to do her job as a White House in­tern.”

Reuters cor­re­spon­dent Jeff Ma­son con­tra­dicted the White House ac­count. “I was seated next to @Acosta at to­day’s press con­fer­ence and did not wit­ness him ‘plac­ing his hands’ on the young in­tern, as the White House al­leges,” Ma­son wrote on Twit­ter. “He held on to the mi­cro­phone as she reached for it.”

Crit­ics said that video, which sped up the move­ment of Acosta’s arms in a way that dra­mat­i­cally changed the jour­nal­ist’s re­sponse, was de­cep­tively edited to score po­lit­i­cal points. That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Wat­son, known for his con­spir­acy the­ory videos on the far-right web­site In­fowars.

Wat­son said he did not change the speed of the video and that claims he had al­tered it were a “brazen lie.” Wat­son told Buz­zFeed he cre­ated the video by down­load­ing an an­i­mated image from con­ser­va­tive news site Daily Wire, zoom­ing in and sav­ing it as a video — a con­ver­sion he says that could have made it “look a tiny bit dif­fer­ent.”

A frame-by-frame break­down by Sto­ry­ful, a so­cial­me­dia in­tel­li­gence firm that ver­i­fies me­dia con­tent, found that the edited video in­cluded re­peated frames that did not ap­pear in the orig­i­nal footage.

The re­peated frames made Acosta’s arm move­ment look more ex­ag­ger­ated, said Shane Ray­mond, a jour­nal­ist at Sto­ry­ful.

Re­vok­ing a pass is rare, ac­cord­ing to the White House Cor­re­spon­dents As­so­ci­a­tion. It called on the White House to re­verse a “weak and mis­guided ac­tion.”

MAN­DEL NGAN/GETTY-AFP

Pres­i­dent Trump gets into a heated ex­change with CNN’s Jim Acosta, cen­ter.

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