White House Caught Using Doctored Video To Justify Banning Reporter For Tough Questions

This post has been updated to include an additional tweet at the end.

On Wednesday, during Trump’s rambling, incoherent press conference, CNN reporter Jim Acosta tried to ask the president a question about the Russia investigation that the president didn’t want to answer. The president attempted to cut him off when a White House intern sprang into action to grab the microphone away from him.

“You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible…you shouldn’t treat people that way,” the president of the United States said while Sarah Huckabee Sanders laughed.

The White House then used the stunt to justify suspending Jim Acosta’s press credentials.

Here’s an unaltered video of incident, so you can see just how plain wrong this characterization is.

After backlash from the press over yanking Acosta’s access, Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out an edited video of the question that makes it appear that Acosta’s movement was more violent than it was, which was not violent at all:

The video appears to come from the Infowars conspiracy theorist and human stain Paul Joseph Watson:

As the next several tweets will show, it’s also been doctored to make Acosta look like he’s karate chopping a White House intern, instead of moving in a completely normal way. Here’s a Slate video editor breaking it down:

Another video editor overlaid the two videos to reveal the administration’s lie:

(One caveat to that tweet already mentioned here—the White House tweeted out a doctored video but there’s no evidence that they doctored it themselves, only that they spread Infowars’ doctored clip.)

The administration is lying, using falsified evidence, to justify the authoritarian move of pulling the credentials of a reporter who asked the president a question he didn’t like about his efforts to obstruct justice in the investigation into any possible crimes his campaign committed during the 2016 election. This is something we’re accustomed to hearing about totalitarian regimes doing in faraway lands, not here in the United States.

This is gaslighting on top of bullying on top of more gaslighting. CNN and several others who have challenged the president were recently the victims of a serial bomber. This time the bombs didn’t explode, next time we might not be so lucky. Instead of dialing back the inflammatory rhetoric that the press is the “enemy of the people,” the president is ratcheting it up, while accusing reporters of violence. It’s not going to end well.

The question Jim Acosta asked before the Russia question that sent the president into a tantrum was about his characterization of the migrant caravan as an “invasion,” another lie that fueled more real-life violence when an anti-immigrant gunmen shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh killing 11 people.

You’ll notice Trump hasn’t tweeted anything about the caravan after the election, which is because he was just using it as a scare tactic to try to whip his base into a frenzy so they would vote for Republicans. It’s a tedious, mind-numbing cycle of propaganda and the press hasn’t learned how to properly deal with it.

These lies are supposed to exhaust us and make us feel unmoored from reality and our own senses. As the political philosopher Hanna Arendt wrote in The Origins of Totalitarianism,

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

UPDATE (Thursday, November 8, 5:35 p.m.)

Charlie Warzel, the senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News, tweeted that difference between the videos could be a video-to-gif conversion issue.