White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is facing accusations from dozens of reporters that she shared an edited video of an incident between CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta and an administration aide at President Trump’s post-midterm news conference on Wednesday.
Sanders shared the video, which only shows a few seconds from the interaction, on her official Twitter account to justify the White House’s decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials after his heated back-and-forth exchange with the president.
We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. pic.twitter.com/T8X1Ng912y
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
Hours earlier, Sanders released a statement falsely accusing Acosta of “placing his hands” on a female White House intern during an earlier news conference with the president.
In a statement posted on Twitter, CNN challenged Sanders’ account and argued that the revocation of Acosta’s access to the White House “was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference.”
“Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied,” the cable news network said of the explanation. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”
Acosta tweeted that the accusation is “a lie.”
Slowed-down video footage from the encounter clearly shows that the female intern was the one who touched Acosta at least four different times while attempting to rip a microphone out of his hand. As the intern attempted to grab at the mic, Acosta politely told the intern, “Pardon me, ma’am.”
— Sarah Burris (@SarahBurris) November 8, 2018
Reuters reporter Jeff Mason tweeted: “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. He held on to the microphone as she reached for it. The @Reuters pictures below depict what happened accurately.”
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. He held on to the microphone as she reached for it. The @Reuters pictures below depict what happened accurately. pic.twitter.com/nO68Hf4eQM
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) November 8, 2018
Matt Dornic, CNN’s vice president of communications and digital partnerships, said it was “absolutely shameful” for Sanders to share the video.
“History will not be kind to you,” Dornic tweeted.
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) November 8, 2018
Dozens of reporters and political analysts took to Twitter to point out that the video zooms in on the moment of contact, and appears to have been “sped up so that it seems more violent than it is.”
This is a video that Infowars made. They sped it up so that it seems more violent than it is. https://t.co/FH1tsGSSaU
— Nicole Goodkind (@NicoleGoodkind) November 8, 2018
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) November 8, 2018
The White House Press Secretary tweeted a doctored Infowars video, solidifying her position as the most dishonest Press Secretary in history. That is something. https://t.co/rQgJnGfQq1
— Elise Jordan (@Elise_Jordan) November 8, 2018
Here is Sarah Sanders’ tweet pushing the doctored video in support of her lie about @Acosta. What a profound disgrace she is for behaving like this. The logical soul-destroying conclusion to working for Trump, but nevertheless https://t.co/gOpYQVzuVt pic.twitter.com/NO4RvDgGq7
— Mark Follman (@markfollman) November 8, 2018
The White House Press Secretary posts doctored video from #InfoWars, which is banned from virtually every social media network for lying, as justification for revoking @Acosta's credentials. The video has been sped up from how it actually happened to deceive the viewer. https://t.co/vGRwe0lH8Z
— Ray Steele (@RaySteeleRTV6) November 8, 2018
1) Took @PressSec Sarah Sanders' video of briefing
2) Tinted red and made transparent over CSPAN video
3) Red motion is when they doctored video speed
4) Sped up to make Jim Acosta's motion look like a chop
5) I've edited video for 15+ years
6) The White House doctored it pic.twitter.com/q6arkYSx0V
— Rafael Shimunov 🔥 (@rafaelshimunov) November 8, 2018
Several reporters noted that the video shared by Sanders appears to have come from an account linked to InfoWars, the website of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter pointed out this connection, asking: “Surely you don’t trust InfoWars…?”
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 8, 2018
The White House Correspondents’ Association said in a statement late Wednesday that it “strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use U.S. Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship.”
“We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action,” the group added.
Earlier in the day, Acosta engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with President Trump after challenging his use of the word “invasion” to describe a migrant caravan of roughly 4,000 Central American immigrants who are walking through Mexico to claim asylum in the U.S.
“I think you should let me run the country and let you run CNN,” Trump lashed out at the journalist. “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”