(JTA) — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Samders appears to have used a video created by a conspiratorial website to justify yanking a CNN reporter’s press pass.
On Wednesday, the White House revoked the pass of Jim Acosta hours after he and President Donald Trump went head to head during a Trump news conference.
Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern” and of preventing other reporters from asking questions at the news conference. She called his behavior “absolutely unacceptable” and said his White House press pass would be suspended “until further notice.”
Initial video of the incident showed the intern trying several times to take the microphone from Acosta. The CNN reporter could be heard saying “Pardon me, ma’am” as he moved the microphone out of reach, but no significant or intentional contact appeared to take place.
On Wednesday night, Sanders tweeted out a video utilizing repeated close-ups attempting to show Acosta chopping the intern’s arm as she reached for the microphone, along with the following comment: “We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”
CNN criticized Sanders, insisting that the video had been doctored — a claim echoed by several websites featuring their own frame-by-frame, side-by-side analysis.
The video clip tweeted by Sanders appeared to match one posted by Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large for the far-right media outlet Infowars. Watson denied altering the video.
A senior official interviewed by NBC said the White House would not be discussing the video or its origins.
Later Thursday, Sanders insisted that the White House was standing by its statement.
“The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not?” Sanders said. “The video is clear, he did.”
Infowars, which was broadcast on social media platforms, is run and hosted by the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones and Infowars have been suspended from Twitter, Apple, Facebook and other social media platforms.
Jones has promoted numerous conspiracy theories, including that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting attack in Connecticut never happened and that the U.S. government was involved in the 9/11 terror attacks. The parents of Jewish Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner, 6, have sued Jones for denying that the attack took place.
Some of Jones’ conspiracy theories involve Jews, such as that “leftist Jews” may have impersonated Nazis to discredit white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, and that there is a “Jewish mafia” run by George Soros. In the past, Jones has denied that he is anti-Semitic, saying he reserves his attacks for Jewish liberals.
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
Jones has denied that he is anti-Semitic, saying he reserves his attacks for Jewish liberals.