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article imageOp-Ed: Sanders uses altered footage to show reporter Acosta as aggressor

By Ken Hanly     Nov 9, 2018 in Technology
Washington - Last Wednesday, Jim Acosta, a reporter for CNN had a heated exchange with President Trump over immigration during a press conference. During the exchange a female Trump aide tried to get the microphone from Acosta.
The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders claimed that Acosta had placed his hands on the woman and Acosta was banned from the White House.
The differing narratives
The White House and others differ about what the video shows. However, what one sees may depend upon which video you look at, The video posted with the White House press conference came from Tom Watson of Infowars but he in turn had it from other sources. He said he did not doctor the video. The original video from CNN does not actually show Acosta placing his hands on the aide as the White House claims but just that their arms touched when the aide reached across his body to seize the microphone according to an article in The Verge However, in the tweet that Paul Watson sent out with a GIF video of the incident the footage has been altered to make it appear that Acosta actually chopped the woman's arm with his hand. Less than an hour later White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders herself tweeted out the same video saying: "We will not tolerate the clearly inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video". However, what may be clear on the tweeted video is not clear in the original footage. The two videos of the exact happening are posted in the appended video. While in both videos Acosta's arm touches that of the aide, in the video on the right it appears more as if it is an aggressive chop. That is the video the White House posted.
Was the footage doctored?
Watson of Infowars says he did not doctor the clip. He told Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed that he had simply zoomed in on section of the footage but did not change it otherwise. Could it be that doing this and changing the frame rate of the video could make it appear as if Acosta were the aggressor? The issue is not simple as Warzel notes: "It’s all confusing. There’s even an example in which all parties are mostly correct. Watson’s clip is different than the CSPAN clip because it was taken from a gif and thus missing frames, which could cause the Acosta movement to look faster than it actually was. In that case, one can argue that the video was made faster. If that’s the case, there’s also an argument that Watson is telling the truth — he didn’t personally speed up the video, he just took a clip that was missing frames."
Frames are often lost when converting videos to gifs. Also the process can sometimes distort the image. Several analysts however claim the footage was altered. Journalist Shane Raymond, a journalist at the social media intelligence company Storyful did a frame-by frame analysis and found that the footage was altered so that certain frames were repeated. Paris Martineau also did a frame by frame analysis and also concluded that the incident had been made more dramatic by repeating a frame three times. Whatever the change in the video, Warzel worried that this was the beginning of a dystopia where everyone chose their own reality based on a doctored video of their choice.
An article in Wired goes into great detail as to how the Watson video became a White House tweet.
Observations
The Verge noted that there is no simple algorithm that can settle the dispute between Acosta and the White House. Quite intelligent people could look at both videos and come away with opposite conclusions often reflecting their political views. The author of the Verge article believes that an aide trying to wrest a microphone from a journalist doing his job was an assault on democracy even though the discussion on the issue seems to ignore that fact as if it is beside the point.
Of course the aide was also just doing her job which was to control the microphone. No doubt she had a sign from Trump or someone to get the microphone as Trump found the questioning disruptive. Given that she was trying to wrest the microphone from Acosta it is to be expected that there would be some physical contact. Both actually seem relatively restrained given that they were both trying to keep control of the mike.
The White House IMHO was making a mountain out of a molehill and to do so they had to use an altered video that made Acosta look more aggressive than he actually was.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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