A video distributed by the Trump administration to support its argument for banning CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House appears to have been doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was during an exchange with a White House intern, an independent expert said Thursday.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted the video, which shows Acosta asking President Donald Trump a question on Wednesday as the intern tries to take his microphone away. But a frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the same incident shows that the one tweeted by Sanders appears to have been altered to speed up Acosta's arm movement as he touches the intern's arm, according to Abba Shapiro, an independent video producer who examined the footage at AP's request.
Earlier, Shapiro noticed that frames in the tweeted video were frozen to slow down the action, allowing it to run the same length as the AP one.
The alteration is "too precise to be an accident," said Shapiro, who trains instructors to use video editing software.
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.
Sanders, who hasn't said where the tweeted video came from, noted that it clearly shows Acosta made contact with the intern. In her statement announcing Acosta's suspension, she said the White House won't tolerate "a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job."
While the origin of the manipulated video is unclear, its distribution marked a new low for an administration that has been criticized for its willingness to mislead.
The White House News Photographers Association decried the sharing of the footage.
"As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth," said Whitney Shefte, the association's president. "It's deceptive, dangerous and unethical. Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country's highest office with vast influence over public opinion."
CNN has labeled Sanders' characterization of Acosta's exchange with the intern as a lie. Its position has been supported by witnesses including Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason, who was next to Acosta during the news conference and tweeted that he did not see Acosta place his hands on the White House employee. Rather, he said he saw him holding on to the microphone as she reached for it.
"The irony of this White House video involving Jim Acosta is that if it is found to be doctored, it will show the administration to be doing what it accuses the news media of doing — engaging in fake information," said Aly Colon, a professor in journalism ethics at Washington & Lee University.
Several journalists and organizations — including the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Online News Association — demanded Acosta's press pass be reinstated.
"It is the essential function of a free press in every democracy to independently gather and report information in the public interest, a right that is enshrined in the First Amendment," said Julie Pace, AP's Washington bureau chief. "We strongly reject the idea that any administration would block a journalist's access to the White House."
The New York Times editorialized in favor of restoring Acosta's pass, saying it signaled Trump's view that asking hard questions disqualifies reporters from attending briefings. The newspaper said that if Sanders was so offended by physical contact, "what did she have to say when her boss praised as 'my kind of guy' Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, who was sentenced to anger management classes and community service for body-slamming a Guardian reporter last spring?"
CNN has been a frequent target of the president, who has characterized journalists as enemies of the people and who routinely accuses the mainstream media of spreading "fake news." And Acosta has been one of the more visible thorns in the side of the White House. During their verbal altercation on Wednesday, Trump called Acosta a "terrible person."
Still, it's rare for the White House to pull the so-called hard passes from journalists.
During Lyndon Johnson's presidency, the Secret Service denied clearance to Robert Sherrill, a reporter for The Nation who had gotten into physical fights with government officials. During the George W. Bush presidency, Trude Feldman, who worked for various news outlets, was suspended for 90 days after security cameras recorded her looking through a press aide's desk late one night. In the 1970s, President Nixon tried to get Washington Post reporters banned from the White House.
Despite losing his White House pass, Acosta is expected to travel to Paris this weekend to cover Trump's trip to meet with world leaders.
Calvin Woodward reported from Washington. Associated Press journalists Jill Colvin, Catherine Lucey, Zeke Miller, Tami Abdollah, Padmananda Rama and Deb Reichmann contributed from Washington.
Game Of Thrones trailer and final series date revealed
Game Of Thrones will return for its eighth and final series in April next year, HBO has confirmed in..
Game Of Thrones will return for its eighth and final series in April next year, HBO has confirmed in a new teaser trailer for the show.
A clip announcing the return of the hit series, which first aired in 2011, features the tagline: "For The Throne."
While few details are revealed, the video shows key moments from past series and lets fans know when they can expect to see the much anticipated final season, which will be broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic and Now TV.
Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage will reprise their roles as Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister, while Lena Headey will return to face them as the key antagonist, Cersei Lannister.
Speaking backstage at the Emmys in September, the show's boss David Benioff said the final season took a long time to make "because it's the biggest thing we've ever done".
"Even though it's six episodes, it was nearly a full year in Belfast either prepping it or shooting it," he said.
"It's quite extraordinary what the crew and the actors created, and I think when people see it they'll understand why it took so long.
"No one's going on vacation or slacking off, it's just that last season is far beyond what we've ever attempted before, and it is taking a really f****** long time – and I hope it will be worth it."
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By the time the season airs it will be almost two years since the seventh series of the show, based on George RR Martin's book series A Song of Ice and Fire, was broadcast in summer 2017.
Earlier this year, HBO revealed it was moving ahead with a Game of Thrones prequel set thousands of years before the events of the TV show, and that it would be the first of five potential spin-off projects. (more…)
German Playboy regrets ‘misquoting’ composer Ennio Morricone
German Playboy has distanced itself from an interview with Ennio Morricone after it quoted the Itali..
German Playboy has distanced itself from an interview with Ennio Morricone after it quoted the Italian composer referring to Quentin Tarantino as a "cretin".
The German edition of the men's magazine says a freelance reporter may have misquoted the legendary 90-year-old film composer in its latest edition.
The interview, published last week, quoted Morricone referring to the US film director as a "cretin" who stole ideas from others.
He was also quoted as saying the Oscars ceremony was "boring".
Morricone, who won an Oscar in 2016 for the music for Tarantino's film The Hateful Eight, has vehemently denied criticising the director, his films or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
"I consider Tarantino a great director," Morricone said.
He also credited their collaboration for his Oscar success, "which is for sure one of the greatest acknowledgements of my career, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to compose music for his film".
German Playboy, which is published by Munich-based Hubert Burda Media, said that "up to now, we have considered the freelancer who conducted the Ennio Morricone interview on our behalf to be a renowned print and radio journalist".
Florian Boitin, the magazine's editor-in-chief, said in a statement: "Based on the information now at our disposal, we must unfortunately assume that the words spoken in the interview have, in part, been reproduced incorrectly.
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"We would like to express our regret should Mr Morricone have been portrayed in a false light," he added. (more…)
Dave Grohl takes food to California firefighters
Firefighters in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, posted a picture on Instagram thanking the Foo Fighters..
Firefighters in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, posted a picture on Instagram thanking the Foo Fighters frontman.
Dave Grohl has once again demonstrated his good guy credentials, taking food to hungry firefighters working to tackle wildfires in California.
The Foo Fighters frontman took barbecue meats to feed the crew at Fire Station 68 in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, on Monday night.
In a post on Instagram, the firefighters, who have been battling the Woolsey fire – one of several that have caused devastation in the state – thanked the musician, saying: "It was awesome to get a visit tonight from Dave Grohl of the @foofighters.
"He also treated us to some of his own @backbeatbbq. Thanks Dave! It was excellent!"
Firefighters have been struggling against the wind-fuelled southern California wildfire, which stretches from north of Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean.
More than 40 people have been killed in the fires.
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