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White House pushes ridiculous ‘assault’ video to defend reporter ban


Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday accused CNNs Jim Acosta of inappropriate behavior towards a White House intern, citing this as the reason his press pass was revoked. The Press Secretary did this in a 194-word screed posted from an official White House account on Twitter. She then punctuated her point by sharing a video of the incident edited by Infowars Paul Joseph Watson. Not here exactly, but on our new hardware site Plugged. The incident in question occurred yesterday during President Donald Trumps press conference in the West Wing. Throughout the presser, the President took questions from a number of reporters including Acosta. As the event wore on, Acosta elicited Trumps ire by continually questioning the President concerning the White Houses rhetoric about the migrant caravan and other hardball issues. The President eventually became testy and demanded Acosta stop talking. While the President spoke over Acosta, a White House intern approached the reporter and attempted to take his microphone away. What happened next is the subject of no small amount of debate on the internet. BREAKING: White House aide grabs and tries to physically remove a microphone from CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta during a contentious exchange with President Trump at a news conference. Whether or not Acosta made a downward motion with his arm, intending to strike the intern with a karate chop – and how intense an action this was – appears to be the basis of the debate. By some accounts, the reporter merely pulled his arm away from the intern, said Pardon me, maam, and covered the microphone so he could continue doing his job. Others werent so dismissive. "He never once touched her." That is a complete lie. He clearly did. Is whatever you're paid by CNN really worth making a total fool out of yourself for the world to see? And that brings us to President Trumps Press Secretary, who thought it would be a good idea to defend the POTUS by sharing a video uploaded and edited by Infowars Editor-At-Large and far-right provocateur Paul Joseph Watson. We stand by our decision to revoke this individuals hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. The White House is painting the incident as an example of CNNs outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration, and as a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. As a result, theres plenty of debate going on concerning the validity of the video and what Watsons version really shows, much of it incited by Watson himself. The short version is that he claims his video wasnt doctored in any way because he took a video from a news site and merely zoomed in. But the clip he used is a GIF, not a video, which explains why it looks different using the eyeball test, and why the argument is a semantic one. And, thats the real moral of this story: a semantics debate is a tried-and-true way to obscure an issue until the public tires of it. President Trump, it appears to many, issued a ban on a member of the free press for being rude. And Press Secretary Sanders made sure the headlines were about her and Infowars. This should help serve to stave off any need for the GOP to seriously discuss this unprecedented reinterpretation of the US Constitution by a sitting President. Say what you will about Sanders ethics, morals, integrity, or commitment to her country; but she appears to have gone above and beyond the call of duty in her service to Donald Trump this week.

White House shares manipulated Infowars video to justify CNN press ban


Read this slowly: The White Houses press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNNs chief white house correspondent. CNNs Jim Acosta had his press pass pulled by the White House earlier today after press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed he had plac[ed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job. Acosta disputes this. This is a lie. The journalist had being trying to continue asking president Trump questions during a contentious exchange at a White House press briefing. During this exchange Trump cut over him verbally — saying thats enough — at which point a female White House intern moved towards Acosta and attempted to take the microphone out of his hands. The journalist dodged and then blocked several attempts to take the microphone by using his arm and the side of his hand against the interns arm, addressing her with pardon me maam as he did so, and indicating that he was trying to ask Trump another question. You can see what happened in a video shared by NBC News which captured footage of the incident (below). In the footage the intern can be seen stopping trying to remove the mic after Acosta speaks to her. He goes on to ask Trump if he is worried about indictments coming down in [the Russia] investigation. Trump does not answer, repeating thats enough and put down the mic. Getting no answers, Acosta does then relinquish the mic. BREAKING: White House aide grabs and tries to physically remove a microphone from CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta during a contentious exchange with President Trump at a news conference. Far right conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars quickly spun into action after this episode — publishing a couple of posts on its website couching Acostas actions as a physical confrontation with female White House staffer, and asking in a lengthy video post whether Acosta assault[ed] a woman?. In the video Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson can be seen following the modern political disinformation playbook — avoiding personally claiming the incident constituted an assault while repeatedly showing manipulated, slowed down footage, stripped of its audio, to make it look like an assault — all the while suggestively reframing what happened to whip up hyperpartisan sentiment (what if this had been a conservative reporter ranting at Obama etc) in order to manipulate his audience to side with the president against CNN.  Watson was also active on social media, seeding a further doctored version of footage on Twitter — which includes a repeat close crop that zooms in on the CNN reporters hand against the interns arm, making it look as if Acosta is giving her a karate chop. Yes the incident clearly did happen. Acosta placed his hands on a woman. Do you think we're all stupid? This is very clearly not what the unedited video shows. In the unedited footage Acosta can be seen essentially brushing off the interns attempt to grab the mic — and addressing her politely at the crucial moment, when the side of his hand is resting on her arm. She responds to his polite pardon me maam by stepped back and stopping trying to take the mic away. Acosta then asks Trump more questions which Trump does not answer. Now Infowars conspiracy theorists creating doctored videos to try to spin hyperpartisan junk news is not new or news. Their business model is based on manipulating viewers emotions to flog them, er, junk supplements. But what is new is that three hours after Sanders issued her series of tweets accusing Acosta of inappropriately placing his hands on a young woman, the White House press secretary tweeted again — this time appearing to share the exact same doctored video that had been shared earlier by Watson, as he worked to put the Infowars divisive alternative spin on reality. Sanders referred directly to the video in her tweet, claiming that inappropriate behaviour had been clearly documented in this video: We stand by our decision to revoke this individuals hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. So the White House is using video footage thats been manipulated through a conspiracy theorist lens to justify a free speech-chilling ban on an actual journalist. Ill say that again: The White House is using a manipulated video shared by conspiracy theorists to justify suspending the press credentials of CNNs chief white house correspondent. And once more: The White House is using lies to justify pulling the press credentials of a genuine journalist. turns out, as we probably all knew it would, that we didn't need deepfakes for nation states to start pushing lies using video Trump has made no secret of his hatred for CNN — repeatedly badging the cable news network fake news in myriad vitriolic tweets since taking office. Now his administration has gone a step further in seeking to stamp out reality by using manipulated video to bar a genuine news outlet from presidential press briefings.  A news outlet that the president especially hates. Let that sink in. Its not just conspiracy theorists who use this kind of information manipulation playbook of course. Authoritarian regimes, terrorists, criminals, racists… the list goes on. Now you can add the White House press secretary to that ignominious list. Weve reached out to the White House to ask why Sanders chose to share the Infowars video — rather than sharing unedited footage of the incident. Well update this post with any response. Meanwhile, on the list of people being allowed into White House press briefings these days…The QAnon-loving livestream lady from yesterday is back for the news conference, @willsommer @jaredlholt @oneunderscore__