White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ shared a video, doctored by InfoWars, that she claimed showed CNN’s Jim Acosta touching a White House aide on Wednesday. In fact, video of the interaction shows Acosta did no such thing, actually turning from the aide who was trying to take the microphone out of his hand during a press conference with the president on Wednesday. After the press conference, the White House pulled Acosta’s press credentials, banning him from the White House. Sanders justified the unprecedented move by pointing to the doctored video as reason for the decision to oust Acosta.
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that an independent expert, Abba Shapiro, verified that indeed, the video shared by Sanders was doctored. Shapiro is a video producer who also trains instructors on the use of software for video editing. Shapiro noted that the video sped up Acosta’s arm movement and paused certain frames to be sure the video remained the same length. Shapiro said the differences between the two versions of the video were “too precise to be an accident.”
Whitney Shefte is the president of the White House News Photographer’s Association. She said of Sanders’ choice to share the manipulated video, “As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth. It’s deceptive, dangerous and unethical. Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country’s highest office with vast influence over public opinion.”
CNN responded to Sanders’ tweet sharing the doctored video saying, “Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied.” CNN continued, “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”
Many have called for Sanders’ resignation in the wake of the clear attempt at promoting false propaganda. Late Nate star Jimmy Kimmel called on Sanders to resign. Many Twitter users have joined in that call.
One Twitter user tweeted, “We the people will accept your resignation today. Please tender it immediately.” Another wrote, “The fact that you have not apologized or even bothered to address this tweet means that you either knew it was doctored or you now know and don’t care. RESIGN.”