The White House News Photographers Association on Thursday denounced White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for sharing what appears to be a manipulated video of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s interaction with a female intern.
“The White House News Photographers Association is appalled to learn that the White House spokesperson may have shared a manipulated video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s interaction with a White House intern during a news conference,” Whitney Shefte, the organization’s president, wrote in a statement.
“As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth,” the statement continued. “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,” the statement concluded.
— Zoe Daniel (@zdaniel) November 8, 2018
Sanders released a statement on Wednesday 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
Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa said on Thursday that Sanders met the “standard for libel against a public figure” when she tweeted a “doctored” video of the Acosta interaction.
“@PressSec you are seriously tweeting out an obviously doctored video – from InfoWars no less – to substantiate a false accusation of assault against a journalist???” Rangappa, a CNN contributor and former counterintelligence agent, wrote on Twitter.
“The standard for libel against a public figure is acting with “actual malice,” and your tweet is Exhibit A,” she added.
.@PressSec you are seriously tweeting out an obviously doctored video – from InfoWars no less – to substantiate a false accusation of assault against a journalist???
The standard for libel against a public figure is acting with “actual malice,” and your tweet is Exhibit A. https://t.co/G6JKx3ZrpN
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) 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.
Several reporters noted that the video shared by Sanders on Thursday 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…?”