By Dawn Stover | November 12, 2018
Lawmakers and cyber experts worry about the growing danger that bad actors will disrupt an election, or even start a war, by creating and sharing a video that is doctored but looks real. A few days ago, the White House posted a video that differed from original footage of the same event, lowering its knee-high bar for truth down to ankle level.
The misleading video, posted on Twitter by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, made it look as though CNN reporter Jim Acosta had pushed a White House intern’s arm while questioning the president during a news conference. Afterward, the White House stripped Acosta of his White House press credentials, falsely accusing him of “placing his hands on a young woman” and saying that the White House “will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
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
Side-by-side analysis shows that the video “documenting” the event was edited to exaggerate the interaction between Acosta and the intern, which the New York Times described as “brief, benign contact.” A forensic analysis by the Times reported that the clip was identical to one posted earlier by a contributor to Infowars, a far-right website known for spreading fake news.
Unlike “deepfakes” that make it look as though a celebrity is saying something they didn’t actually say—like this video of Jordan Peele impersonating Barack Obama—the Infowars video was not sophisticated. Call it a shallowfake instead.
(1/2) The WHNPA is appalled to learn that the White House spokesperson may have shared a manipulated video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s interaction with a White House intern during a news conference. As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth.
— WHNPA (@whnpa) November 8, 2018
Trump isn’t the first president to tell a lie, and his press office isn’t the first to disseminate propaganda. What’s new and highly abnormal is a White House willing to stoop to the same level of truth-bending as the aptly named Infowars. “Manipulating images is manipulating truth,” said the White House News Photographers Association.
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This is a highly biased account – a hit piece. I saw the undoctored video and it is very clear that Acosta reached out and physically prevented this woman from taking the microphone. She was the person in charge, in authority- and Acosta stopped her, not by asking her not to take the mic but by PHYSICALLY preventing her from doing so. She was a slight, young, inexperienced intern and he an older, bigger man. HE refused to recognize HER authority. Does this not smack of disrespect for her if not downright sexism? The Bulletin continues its decline from the… Read more »
Cratylus, would you be okay with an older, bigger male intern trying to PHYSICALLY wrest a microphone from a slight, young female reporter? Or would that, too, be disrespectful and sexist in your view? Like Sarah Sanders, you’re playing the woman card to distract from issues of truthfulness and authoritarianism. My article did not defend Acosta’s behavior; it simply raised concerns about the White House making a false accusation and sharing an altered video from a website widely known for fake news—behavior that undermines public trust. This is not about partisanship; it’s about accuracy, which is of utmost importance to… Read more »