Well, we’ll always have those 10 seconds of faint relief on Wednesday morning.
Somehow, it already feels as though Tuesday’s midterm elections, which restored a measure of bipartisan standing to the three branches of government, happened untold weeks ago. President Trump made sure of that by firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions less than a day later, paving the way for an end to the Mueller investigation. (Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has been relieved of overseeing the matter, with his duties falling to a newly installed interim AG-slash-stooge, who has called the investigation a “witch hunt” on TV.) On top of all that, this Wednesday Afternoon Massacre took place hours after a contentious (even for Trump) press conference, which produced its own still-unfolding scandal.
It started out with a surreal exchange between the president and CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, during which the reporter briefly struggled to hold onto the microphone when an aide tried to take away. Acosta then asked his perhaps too assertively earned follow-up, a challenging question about the Russia investigation. Trump refused to answer the question and called Acosta “a rude, terrible person.” But Trump’s punishment for Acosta did not end with mere badmouthing. Later in the day, the White House officially revoked Acosta’s press pass.
Somehow, it is only at this point in the story that things began to get deeply weird and troubling.
When White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision to revoke Acosta’s press pass, she falsely claimed that the reporter had inflicted physical violence on the intern who tried to take his microphone.
This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question. President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
Setting aside the ludicrously false notion that “President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history,” Acosta clearly didn’t “place his hands on a young woman.” We can all plainly see that. With our eyes. Here’s NBC’s video of the moment in question, but it was captured from other angles as well, which we’ll get to further below.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
CNN’s PR team quickly responded to the White House’s decision and false assertion with a strongly worded condemnation, followed by an even more forceful rebuke by the White House Correspondent’s Association.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018
JUST RELEASED: The WH Correspondents’ Association statement on the revocation of Jim Acosta’s access to the White House complex. pic.twitter.com/xweCf8GEqr
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) November 8, 2018
In response to the rightful observation that the White House can’t merely say that their version of an event seen by millions is the definitive account, Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down. She released a video that makes it look as though Jim Acosta kind of karate-chops the White House intern as he struggles to keep the microphone.
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
Twitter users with eyeballs, however, couldn’t help notice that the footage in the video appears to be sped up.
Normal speed: pic.twitter.com/pOktPxwyfU
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) November 8, 2018
Further clarifying why the White House’s footage looks more damning than what everyone else saw, a 15-year veteran of video editing helpfully broke down the technique used.
1) Took @PressSec Sarah Sanders' video of briefing
2) Tinted red and made transparent over CSPAN video
3) Red motion is when they doctored video speed
4) Sped up to make Jim Acosta's motion look like a chop
5) I've edited video for 15+ years
6) The White House doctored it pic.twitter.com/q6arkYSx0V
— Rafael Shimunov ???? (@rafaelshimunov) November 8, 2018
Apparently, the doctored version of the video came from InfoWars, a sub-basement of Online Hell not exactly known for its honest or honorable tactics. It’s a perfect summation of a White House in a perpetual state of sloppy spin, no matter how brazen the lie it’s in service of. Surely the president, a noted disliker of News that is Fake, will have stern words for whoever on his team put out a video doctored by the InfoWars guy to pollute the waters of truth.
UPDATE: Here is some smart, technical analysis of the video, which appears to have been “transcoded.”