WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is plainly upset with the behavior of a certain CNN reporter. But how far is it willing to go to make its case that the reporter acted improperly during a news conference with President Trump?
One answer emerged Wednesday night when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a video of the episode, involving CNN’s Jim Acosta, the network’s chief White House correspondent. Experts said the video, in which Acosta is seen rebuffing a press aide’s attempt to take a microphone out of his hands, was altered to exaggerate the aggressiveness of Acosta’s actions.
If that is the case, the video may belong in a category rarely employed by democratic governments: visual propaganda.
The White House video, apparently made by a contributor to the conspiracy-peddling website Infowars, speeds up the movement of Acosta’s arms as the unidentified aide grabs at the mic during a heated conversation between the reporter and Trump. The video tweeted by Sanders also eliminated Acosta’s comment to the young woman — “Pardon me, ma’am” — as he sought to continue questioning the president.
On Thursday, Sanders offered no apologies. “The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not?” she asked reporters a day after the White House revoked Acosta’s press credentials for his alleged transgression. “The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”
The White House’s actions and account of them has drawn widespread condemnation, particularly from journalists and news organizations. The White House News Photographers Association, among others, said it was appalled by Sanders’s video.