During a Q&A session with reporters on Friday, President Donald Trump was asked about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’s decision to tweet out a doctored video that was manipulated to make it look like CNN reporter Jim Acosta karate-chopped a White House intern’s arm. Sanders used the manipulated footage to justify banning Acosta from the White House.
Trump responded by denying that the video, which appeared to originate with the far-right conspiracy site Infowars, was in fact distorted.
“Ah, the taped video of Acosta? What are you talking about?” Trump said. “Nobody manipulated it — give me a break. See, that’s just dishonest reporting. All that is is a close-up. See, that’s just — that is just dishonest reporting.”
“I watched that, I heard that last night,” continued Trump. “They made it close up. They showed it close up. And he was not nice to that young woman. I don’t hold him for that, because it wasn’t overly, you know, horrible. But all that was — when you say ‘doctored,’ you’re a dishonest guy. Because it wasn’t doctored. They gave a close-up view. That’s not doctoring.”
Independent experts say the footage was clearly altered.
Abba Shapiro, an independent video producer who examined the clip at the request of the Associated Press, detailed how whoever manipulated the video intentionally sped up parts of it and slowed down others to make it look like Acosta was physically aggressive with the intern.
From the AP:
The tweeted video also does not have any audio, which Shapiro said would make it easier to alter. It’s also unlikely the differences could be explained by technical glitches or by video compression — a reduction in a video’s size to enable it to play more smoothly on some sites — because the slowing of the video and the acceleration that followed are “too precise to be an accident,” said Shapiro, who trains instructors to use video editing software.
Trump’s insistence that clearly manipulated footage isn’t in fact manipulated fits with a larger pattern: The president has repeatedly tried to condition his supporters to trust what he tells them over their own senses.
During a speech in July, Trump urged people to disbelieve “the fake news” and instead listen to him.
“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Trump said, pointing at reporters as the crowd broke out in boos. “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Sanders’s tweet sharing the doctored footage was still live as of Friday morning.