The quarrel over CNN reporter Jim Acosta and the withdrawal of his White House accession rights has become an affair with presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sparking a debate over the limits of government propaganda in a democracy. The White House correspondents accuse her of broadcasting a rigged video to corroborate Acosta’s accusation that he was physically opposed to a member of the press staff who was supposed to take the microphone away from him.
Donald Trump had given the floor to Acosta at the press conference on Wednesday’s election exit, but withdrew it after exchanging words. Then the co-worker went to Acosta. He first held the microphone and continued talking. It came to body contact.
On the video that Sanders distributed via Twitter , the gesture of the gesticulating Acosta has been accelerated, video experts analyze. So the short physical contact with the employee does not seem like an inadvertent touch, but like a knocking off of the woman’s arm. In addition, the manipulated video contained no soundtrack, so that Acosta’s apology “Pardon me, ma’am” was not heard.
The White House had suspended Acosta’s passport after the press conference. Sanders reasoned that Acosta “laid hands on a young woman.”
The reactions in the US were divided. Media left center view in the punishment Acostas an interference in the press freedom. Right-center media tell Acosta that he’s making it a way to engage the president in exchange, rather than asking questions. He does not act like a journalist, but like an opponent of Trump.
But now the White House is accused of not having forged a manipulated video, but spread it, although the source was questionable. Whitney Shefte, chairman of White House photojournalists, says, “Manipulating images manipulates the truth.” That’s “misleading, dangerous and unethical,” especially “if someone does that on behalf of the highest state office.” Melissa Chan of The New York Times, who currently lives as a Bosch Fellow in Berlin, feels reminded of China. There, the government had denied her the accreditation with similar justification.
Trump threatened on Friday with another meeting with journalists that even more of them could be deprived of accreditation: “There could be others,” he said. His personal attacks on individual media representatives, he continued on this occasion. Journalist Abby Phillip, who also works for CNN, said he had asked a “stupid question”. “You ask a lot of stupid questions,” he said.
Phillip had asked if, following the expulsion of Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the help of his temporary successor, Matthew Whitaker, the president wanted to curb the investigation into possible illegal Trump contacts with Moscow in the 2016 election campaign.
At his brief press briefing on Friday, Trump also cursed radio reporter April Ryan for being “loser” and “very mean”. He urged journalists to treat the White House with “respect” for being a “very holy place”.