Did CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta inappropriately touch a White House intern during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon? That, dear Watson, is the question. And according to Acosta, the answer is of course a resounding no.
“Obviously, you know, I didn’t put my hands on her or touch her as they are alleging,” he claimed during a CNN interview Wednesday evening. “And it’s just unfortunate that the White House is saying this. You know, we all try to be professionals over there and I think I handled myself professionally.”
Listen, and pay attention to the video playing in the background:
The video played by host Anderson Cooper contained a notable omission — one that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made sure to highlight later on Twitter.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” she initially tweeted Wednesday evening, hours after a tense confrontation between President Donald Trump and Acosta during the aforementioned presser.
“We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” the press secretary added, referencing a moment during which Acosta refused to hand his microphone over to the intern, choosing instead to seemingly push her away.
A few hours later she shared the following footage from the presser that conspicuously shows Acosta briefly putting his hands on the intern to prevent her from getting a hold of his microphone:
He clearly put his hands on the intern, meaning what he said to Cooper was a blatant lie. And because he put his hands on her and then later lied about it, the argument could be made that the White House was justified in revoking his press credentials.
“As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice,” Sanders stated in hard-hitting tweet storm Wednesday night.
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
The problem is that a growing chorus of critics now claim that the video Sanders shared had been purposefully doctored to make Acosta’s inappropriate touching look worse.
“This video is doctored. It’s slowed down and then sped up at the moment Acosta’s hand comes down to make it look like he’s doing a karate chop or something. This is shameful propaganda. It’s Orwellian,” Entertainment Weekly’s Dana Schwartz tweeted, echoing the sentiment of others.
CNN VP Matt Dornic helped lead the charge, and accused Sanders of tweeting a ‘doctored’ tape:
You manipulated this video. The lies never end. Here’s the actual video. pic.twitter.com/pdVWbDOKTI
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) November 8, 2018
**Update: Former FBI agent and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa went so far as to accuse Sanders of ‘libel’:
.@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
This video is doctored. It’s slowed down and then sped up at the moment Acosta’s hand comes down to make it look like he’s doing a karate chop or something. This is shameful propaganda. It’s Orwellian. https://t.co/in8m3iHn18
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) 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
Sarah Sanders released a doctored video of what happened with Jim Acosta. On one hand I’m like “Oh please no I can’t bear to talk about something like this so early in the morning. “ On the other hand, we can’t ignore this stuff. It’s dangerous. https://t.co/XxG6WDpKpB
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) November 8, 2018
All media should be convering the fact that the White House posted a doctored video of the Acosta incident. Trump has taken a page out of Putin’s playbook here. Next stop? State-run media.
— Dani Bostick (@danibostick) November 8, 2018
Saying the White House posted a doctored video is a leap that I don't think (with maybe 75%-80% confidence) stacks up pic.twitter.com/5DLhqIrNd3
— Paul Joseph Watson is far-right (@imbadatlife) November 8, 2018
Are the allegations correct? Watch the original footage of the altercation below:
While the clip shared by Sanders was definitely slowed-down, it’s not clear that whoever prepared it fast-forwarded it during the brief moment when Acosta put his hands on the reporter.
What’s clear is that neither Acosta and his supporters (including CNN) nor Sanders and her supporters (including her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee) intend to back down.
Here are some tweets from Sanders’ supporters, including Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union, who noted that a number of journalists are exasperated by Acosta’s behavior:
I personally received calls from wh reporters who believe the behavior from several reporters today was indefensible. They just can’t say it https://t.co/MkwXJv5CE5
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) November 8, 2018
If Acosta was a GOP candidate/official and the lady was a reporter, the media would scream that he assaulted her. Did Acosta bring his own mic or doesn’t that belong to @WhiteHouse ? CNN, the CLASSLESS News Network. https://t.co/tZdIhZbF09
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) November 7, 2018
I sat next to Acosta at the press conference today. The White House intern came to take the microphone to the next reporter called on for a question, and Acosta, right or wrong, refused to give it to her when she reached out to grab it. https://t.co/ZHi7sbEKUf
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 8, 2018
Technically the woman assaulted Jim Acosta.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 8, 2018
There is more evidence Jim Acosta assaulted a women than Brett Kavanaugh
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) November 7, 2018
Jim Acosta is the Antifa. He assaulted a woman today in the presence of the President of the United States.
— Michael Moates 🇺🇸 (@freedom_moates) November 7, 2018
I hope the WH aide Jim Acosta assaulted pursues every legal remedy available to her.
— CJ Pearson (@thecjpearson) November 7, 2018
Below are Acosta’s supporters, including CNN and the White House Correspondents Association:
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 7, 2018
— WHCA (@whca) November 8, 2018
Anyone critiquing @Acosta needs to remember he was attempting to question President Pussy McGrabs-A-Lot.
— Jess Phoenix 🌋 (@jessphoenix2018) November 8, 2018
— Cliff Pinckard (@cpinckard) November 8, 2018
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