White House Releases Doctored Video, Expels CNN Journalist

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This was the hot topic on my Twitter feed just as I was falling asleep last night, but today is a new day:

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 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 speeded up or altered so as to distort the action.

Acosta was refusing to give up the mic because he wanted to ask a followup question, and you can decide for yourself if that demonstrates bad manners. But of course the White House couldn’t just stop there. Sarah Huckabee Sanders revoked Acosta’s press pass, saying they would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern”—a nasty implication that’s plainly untrue. Then she posted the doctored video:

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

It’s subtle, but it does indeed appear to be doctored to make Acosta’s action look more like a deliberate “karate chop.” I wonder how this is being handled over at Fox News? I don’t have the foritude to turn on the TV and find out.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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