Critics: Video of Acosta edited to be deceptive
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday night shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.
The edited video looks authentic: Acosta appeared to swiftly chop down on the arm of an aide as he held onto a microphone while questioning President Donald Trump. But in the original video, Acosta’s arm appears to move only as a response to a tussle for the microphone. His statement, “Pardon me, ma’am,” is not included in the video Sanders shared.
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.” But side-by-side comparisons support claims from fact-checkers and experts such as Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, who argued that crucial parts of the video appear to have been sped up or altered so as to distort the action.
The video has quickly become a flashpoint in the battle over viral misinformation, turning a live interaction watched by thousands in real-time into just another ideological tug-of-war. But it has also highlighted how video content has become as vulnerable to political distortion as anything else.
A White House staff member, left, tries to take away the microphone from CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday.