RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Lomas writes: "Read this slowly: The White House's press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN's chief white house correspondent."

Far-right-wing conspiracy website InfoWars. (photo: YouTube)
Far-right-wing conspiracy website InfoWars. (photo: YouTube)

White House Shares Manipulated Infowars Video to Justify CNN Press Ban

By Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

08 November 18


ead this slowly: The White House’s press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent.

CNN’s Jim Acosta had his press pass pulled by the White House earlier today after press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed he had “plac[ed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”.

Acosta disputes this.

The journalist had being trying to continue asking president Trump questions during a contentious exchange at a White House press briefing.

During this exchange Trump cut over him verbally — saying “that’s enough” — at which point a female White House intern moved towards Acosta and attempted to take the microphone out of his hands.

The journalist dodged and then blocked several attempts to take the microphone by using his arm and the side of his hand against the intern’s arm, addressing her with “pardon me ma’am” as he did so, and indicating that he was trying to ask Trump another question.

You can see what happened in a video shared by NBC News which captured footage of the incident (below). In the footage the intern can be seen stopping trying to remove the mic after Acosta speaks to her. He goes on to ask Trump if he is “worried about indictments coming down in [the Russia] investigation”.

Trump does not answer, repeating “that’s enough” and “put down the mic”.

Getting no answers, Acosta does then relinquish the mic.

Far right conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars quickly spun into action after this episode — publishing a couple of posts on its website couching Acosta’s actions as a “physical confrontation with female White House staffer”, and asking in a lengthy video post whether Acosta “assault[ed] a woman?”.

In the video Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson can be seen following the modern political disinformation playbook — avoiding personally claiming the incident constituted an assault while repeatedly showing manipulated, slowed down footage, stripped of its audio, to make it look like an assault — all the while suggestively reframing what happened to whip up hyperpartisan sentiment (‘what if this had been a conservative reporter ranting at Obama’ etc) in order to manipulate his audience to side with the president against CNN.

Watson was also active on social media, seeding a further doctored version of footage on Twitter — which includes a repeat close crop that zooms in on the CNN reporter’s hand against the intern’s arm, making it look as if Acosta is giving her a karate chop.

This is very clearly not what the unedited video shows.

In the unedited footage Acosta can be seen essentially brushing off the intern’s attempt to grab the mic — and addressing her politely at the crucial moment, when the side of his hand is resting on her arm. She responds to his polite “pardon me ma’am” by stepped back and stopping trying to take the mic away.

Acosta then asks Trump more questions which Trump does not answer.

Now Infowars conspiracy theorists creating doctored videos to try to spin hyperpartisan junk news is not new or news. Their business model is based on manipulating viewers’ emotions to flog them, er, junk supplements.

But what is new is that three hours after Sanders issued her series of tweets accusing Acosta of inappropriately placing his hands on a young woman, the White House press secretary tweeted again — this time appearing to share the exact same doctored video that had been shared earlier by Watson, as he worked to put the Infowars’ divisive alternative spin on reality.

Sanders referred directly to the video in her tweet, claiming that “inappropriate behaviour” had been “clearly documented in this video”:

So the White House is using video footage that’s been manipulated through a conspiracy theorist lens to justify a free speech-chilling ban on an actual journalist.

I’ll say that again: The White House is using a manipulated video shared by conspiracy theorists to justify suspending the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent.

And once more: The White House is using lies to justify pulling the press credentials of a genuine journalist.

Trump has made no secret of his hatred for CNN — repeatedly badging the cable news network ‘fake news’ in myriad vitriolic tweets since taking office.

Now his administration has gone a step further in seeking to stamp out reality by using manipulated video to bar a genuine news outlet from presidential press briefings. A news outlet that the president especially hates.

Let that sink in.

It’s not just conspiracy theorists who use this kind of information manipulation playbook of course. Authoritarian regimes, terrorists, criminals, racists… the list goes on.

Now you can add the White House press secretary to that ignominious list.

We’ve reached out to the White House to ask why Sanders chose to share the Infowars video — rather than sharing unedited footage of the incident. We’ll update this post with any response.

Meanwhile, on the list of people being allowed into White House press briefings these days…

Email This Page your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+20 # DongiC 2018-11-08 16:43
Give Trump the opportunity and he will stamp out all criticism. Free press may well become an oxymoron in the reign of Sir Donald. Hang on to your hats, Trump is going to give us a lesson in how valuable our basic freedoms have become. He'll show those damn liberals a thing or two.
+4 # Citizen Mike 2018-11-09 06:54
It is obvious that this president fears the free press and we should all speak out and say so. We must continually use the word FEAR to describe him and repeatedly say he is HIDING. Ask WHAT IS HE HIDING and WHY IS HE SO AFRAID? Describe him a ONCE AGAIN HIDING FROM TTHE PRESS! He must be publicly exposed as a scared guy who has something to hide.
+5 # economagic 2018-11-09 07:02
"Infowars" is a misnomer, perhaps by design. "Infoterrorism" would be closer, as it spreads fear without justification. But since many terrorists have a legitimate axe to grind (despite using illegitimate means to grind it), "infoterrorism" is not really a strong enough condemnation.

Remember the "good old days" when only the tyrant himself--or his appointed propaganda minister--mad his living spreading disinformation?
+4 # RaW 2018-11-09 08:49
I want to bring up something I hadn't read before about the doctored version:
It's not just "sped up". It's backed up and sent forward a couple of times (like a dancing cat video) to make it look like Acosta was actually chopping the intern's arm.
Watch the InfoWars doctored version closely! They showed their own lie! In the first take of their own video Acosta's arm touches hers ONCE. In the following closesups, his arm bounces off hers.
+1 # Robbee 2018-11-09 09:36
"Read this slowly: The White House's press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN's chief white house correspondent." - 08 November 18

" T H E - B I G G E R - T H E - C R O O K !

T H E - H A R D E R - T H E Y - F A L L ! "

- republication freely granted, on acknowledgment, by "robbee"!

- first chanted! along the street behind house disrep tim wallberg's office! shortly after 5 pm yesterday, the 8th
+3 # tclose 2018-11-09 10:21
We can expect Trump to ramp up this kind of anti-press attacks for the next 2 years. The press will have to withstand the pressure and do their job - by increasing coverage of these attacks and other authoritarian impulses of this administration. And by calling out the alt-right media for their distorted coverage.

It would help if the "mainstream press" would give less time to the inane pronouncements of Trump. Every time he opens his mouth he is takes up the Oxygen in the room.
+1 # Robbee 2018-11-09 10:24
do we finally have the answer to the fascist’s dilemma?

which came first? the fake news? or the fake retweet? - ponder!

next, lakoff’s conundrum? - does msm news owe a duty to society to ignore the retweet and the source? and any correction? if only because dickhead’s mouthpiece says it? and let the lie reverberate forever back and forth across the internet, never directly challenged?

a-pro-pros of nothing, first one, then all other media outlets republish the real acosta exchange? while promoting “free press” credentialing? without ever mentioning dickhead’s name? or that millions are watching fake video streaming the internet?

for fact-based content? is there only one outlet? watch late-night tv?
+3 # futhark 2018-11-09 10:58
The Trump White House shows us once again how Fake News is done! No one, no one does Fake News better. Others can try, but there is no way they can trump Mr. Trump.
+3 # tsyganka 2018-11-09 11:58
Twumpie's cult fanboys worship their pig-messiah, thinking he'll save them from their fears and inadequacies - i.e., save them from reality. They think he's strong. He's not. He's a weakling, a sissy, afraid of the truth, afraid of Acosta, afraid of Mueller, afraid of his (Trump's) financial frauds being exposed, afraid of prison, and most of all afraid of not being worshiped.

I suggest that anyone who has to deal with reich-wingers repeat that Twumpie is a cowardly weakling. 'We're strong, and they're snowflakes' is reich-wing doctrine. Derail it. Make them lose confidence in President* Pig.

Reich-wing media vomit out violent hatred 24/7 across the GMO-fruited plain. Rupert Murdoch's media empire is solely a fascist propaganda arm. Controlled media is a primary hallmark of fascism. I note again that everyone who got a pipe bomb in the mail was named on Michael Scheuer's kill list (promoted on John Frederecks Radio Network that Trump has financially supported and on which he and his family have been guests.)

So when will we have a general strike?
0 # economagic 2018-11-09 22:09
WOW! I'm glad I refreshed this forum before deleting it. I was hoping for the general strike when they tried to gut Social
Security, but now that opportunity may not arise. But I'm not betting any money either way.
0 # DongiC 2018-11-11 05:53
They say you can judge the quality of your companions by the things that they strike for. I value economagic and tsyganka as stalwart friends indeed. Keep posting guys.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.