Press secretary stood by decision to revoke CNN reporters access and sharing video edited to make his actions more aggressive
The video, originally made by an employee of Infowars, a far-right conspiracy website, shows Acostas reaction to a White House employee who tried to grab a microphone from him while he attempted to question Donald Trump at a press conference on Wednesday.
The video is cut so that it appears that Acosta tries to forcefully use his arm to push away the White House staffers arm, rather than use his arm to pull back the microphone.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, shared the video on Twitter on Wednesday night and said: We stand by our decision to revoke this individuals hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.
Despite the videos dubious origins, Sanders doubled down in a White House statement on Thursday saying The question is: did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.
Paul Joseph Watson, who makes videos for Infowars, called claims that he had altered the video a brazen lie.
But in an analysis done for Storyful, which describes itself as a social-media intelligence agency that sources and verifies insights for media, there are apparently several frames repeated in the video.
According to an analysis by Shane Raymond, a Storyful journalist, these frames do not appear in the original C-SPAN footage, and appear to exaggerate the action of Acosta.
Read more In an interview with Fox Business Network on Thursday, senior White House communications advisor Mercedes Schlapp insisted that the intern was shaken up and intimidated by Acosta and added: What we are seeing is bad behavior that cannot be tolerated.
The revocation of Acostas hard pass, which provides access to the White House grounds, is without any precedent in modern history. The CNN reporter has made a name for himself by asking forceful questions of Trump and other administration officials.
Acosta has served as a White House correspondent for CNN since 2013 when he covered the Obama administration. He was promoted to chief White House correspondent earlier this year.
The network said: [The revocation] was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at todays press conference. In an explanation, press secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.
Dont believe the lies coming from the WH. Believe in our freedoms. Thank you all for your support. We wont back down. 🇺🇸 #1A
A network spokesman later attacked the video shared by Sanders on Twitter. Matt Dornic, a CNN executive, tweeted at Sanders that her behaviour was absolutely shameful. He added You released a doctored video – actual fake news. History will not be kind to you.
The White House Correspondents Association also condemned the action to revoke Acostas credentials. Its president, Olivier Knox, said in a statement Wednesday night that the group strongly objects to the Trump administrations decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship. Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offence and is unacceptable.
Knox added: We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action. We encourage anyone with doubts that this reaction was disproportionate to the perceived offence to view the video of the events.
• This article was amended on 9 November 2018. An earlier version misnamed Shane Raymond as Shane Richmond. This has been corrected.
The White House is accused of using a video of CNNs Jim Acosta doctored by the conspiracy-theory outlet Infowars as justification for suspending the journalists press pass on Wednesday.
Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, was engaged in a tense exchange with President Donald Trump during a press conference at the White House when a White House intern walked up and tried to take the microphone away from him. Acosta held on to the microphone and kept trying to question Trump.
Read more: The moment a White House intern confronted CNN correspondent Jim Acosta during a tense exchange with Trump, in 3 photos
Acosta was holding the microphone in his right hand. At one point, the intern reached under Acostas left arm to try to grab the microphone, and he appeared to gently block her with his arm. Here is the moment as broadcast live on NBC:
A video shared on Twitter by the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, makes Acostas movement appear more violent.
What appears to be the same video was shared two hours earlier by Paul Joseph Watson, the editor-at-large of Infowars.com, a far-right conspiracy outlet whose content has been barred from almost every major tech content distributor, including Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube, generally for violating their policies on hate speech.
The CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter asked Sanders for the source of the video. “Surely you dont trust InfoWars…?” he said on Twitter.
Other Twitter users showed Sanders video side-by-side with the original broadcast to argue the one she posted had been doctored.
“The question is: did the reporter make contact or not?” Sanders said in a statement distributed to reporters. “The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”
The White House suspended Acostas press credentials after the press conference, limiting his access to the White House grounds. Sanders said on Twitter that the White House would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” though no video evidence has so far supported that claim.
Acosta told CNNs Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that he did not “put my hands on her or touch her as theyre alleging.”
“Its unfortunate the White House is saying this,” he said. “I think I handled myself professionally.”
At the press conference, Acosta had been repeatedly challenging the presidents characterization of a Central American migrant caravan as an invasion.
The White House Correspondents Association condemned the suspension of Acostas credentials, saying the White House should “immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”