On Wednesday the internet erupted after Infowars Paul Joseph Watson posted a video on twitter of Jim Acosta seemingly putting his hands on a White House Intern who attempted to take a microphone from his hands.
The media claimed the video footage had been doctored by Watson to make it appear like an assault.
At least a dozen people died in a mass shooting Wednesday night, yet much of the country was distracted Thursday by 15 seconds of video, thanks to President Donald Trump’s animosity towards the press. Despite speculation to the contrary, at least one forensic expert doesn’t believe the video was doctored. But the biggest concern should be not whether the video was altered, but how it’s being used to silence the free press.
On Wednesday, at a press conference where President Trump boasted about the “tremendous success” of Republicans in the midterm election, the president took his typical combative approach with reporters as they tried to ask questions. About half an hour into the press conference, CNN reporter Jim Acosta was asking the president about the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia, and the president refused to answer, ignoring and interrupting Acosta and turning to other waiting reporters.
At that moment, a White House aide attempted to grab the microphone from Acosta, who tried to keep ahold of it, since he wasn’t done asking his question. There is some physical contact during this interaction, which Acosta apologizes for in the video, saying “pardon me, ma’am.”
That brief moment has become a lightning rod for controversy after the White House announced last night it was suspending Jim Acosta’s press pass for “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job.” On Twitter, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders included a clip of the incident that slows down, zooms in, and dramatically replays the interaction:
People who agreed with the White House’s decision claimed the video showed Acosta “karate chop” the aide. Those who disagreed began to speculate that this video had been doctored to make the “chop” motion seem more dramatic and deliberate by slowing down the intern’s reach for the microphone, adding frames, and then accelerating Acosta’s motion at the moment of contact. A debate online went viral and then spiraled:
But Hany Farid, who studies digital forensics, human perception, and image analysis at the University of California, Berkeley, told Motherboard that he does not think the video was doctored. Though he agreed that the entire video was, of course, slowed down and zoomed in to focus on the moment of physical contact, he does not see any evidence to suggest that it was selectively edited to exaggerate Acosta’s motion.
“From my review of the various videos of the press conference, I believe that the video tweeted by the Press Secretary is misleading but I don’t see unambiguous evidence that it has been doctored,” Farid told Motherboard via email. “A combination of a reduction in the quality of the video, a slowing-down of the video, and the particular vantage point of the CSPAN video gives the appearance that there was more contact between the reporter and the intern than there probably was. In particular, if you look at original, higher-quality videos from other vantage points you can more clearly see that while there was some contact between the reporter and intern, he did not strike her as his hand comes down.”
Jeff Smith, the associate director of the National Center for Media Forensics at the University of Colorado, Denver, came to a similar conclusion. Smith told Motherboard via email that he could detect duplicate frames in the White House video, which could indicate it was doctored.
"There are duplicate frames at the moment of contact; 2 additional frames for no apparent reason but one could surmise that it could give the false impression of a split second more contact then there actually was," Smith wrote. "Otherwise, the video is not slowed down and doesn’t appear to be altered on the pixel level as many people in the twitter-verse are claiming. These many accusations also come as a result of the heavy compression and interlacing of the video."
Do you think the media will offer a retraction and apology to Paul Joseph Watson