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People are claiming video shared by Sarah Sanders of Jim Acosta was doctored — here's why

People are claiming video shared by Sarah Sanders of Jim Acosta was doctored — here's why
Copyright  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Copyright  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
By Emma Beswick
Published on Updated
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Social media users, including a CNN chief, claimed video of an exchange between CNN's Jim Acosta and a White House aide had been sped up.

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After CNN's Jim Acosta locked horns with US President Donald Trump at a press conference on Wednesday, the White House revoked his pass.

During the confrontation, a female White House aide unsuccessfully tried to grab the microphone from Acosta, who appeared to brush her arm as she reached for the microphone and he tried to hold onto it. "Pardon me, ma'am," he told her.

"We will ... never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern..." wrote White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a Tweet.

Sanders also shared a video clip that matched one tweeted by Paul Joseph Watson, an editor of the far-right new site Infowars, which purported to show that Acosta touched the aide as she tried to take a microphone away from him.

Some are claiming the footage has been edited.

What are the theories?

Matt Dornic, CNN's vice president of communications and digital partnerships, said it was a "doctored video" and shared a tweet that said the "chop" motion had been accelerated.

Twitter user Rafael Shimunov said the video was sped up to make Jim Acosta's motion "look like a chop," adding: "I've edited video for 15+ years."

Buzzfeed broke down the claims and said that there was no evidence the video was deliberately sped up and the reason the video looked this way was because of a high-quality video taken from a low-quality GIF.

"The video-to-GIF conversion removes frames from the source material by reducing the frame rate," the media explained.

"When frames drop out, the video appears jumpier. Acosta's arm seems to move faster. Everything accelerates."

Watson himself tweeted in support of this explanation, providing pictures of the editing timeline he used.

He also explained that he took the original footage directly from a GIF posted to the Twitter account of the website the Daily Wire.

Comparisons of the two clips

One Twitter user lined up the original C-SPAN video of the exchange next to the footage posted by Sanders:

Social media newswire Storyful also provided a frame-by-frame comparison, which you can watch in the video player above.

It said the video shared by Sanders "has several frames repeated".

"These frames do not appear in the original C-SPAN footage, and appear to exaggerate the action of Acosta," Storyful added.

Accusations, defence, and explanations continued to flood social media on Thursday evening.

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The White House had not commented on the video at the time of writing.

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