Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday accused CNN’s Jim Acosta of “inappropriate behavior” towards a White House intern, citing this as the reason his press pass was revoked.
The Press Secretary did this in a 194-word screed posted from an official White House account on Twitter. She then punctuated her point by sharing a video of the incident edited by Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson.
The incident in question occurred yesterday during President Donald Trump’s press conference in the West Wing. Throughout the presser, the President took questions from a number of reporters including Acosta.
As the event wore on, Acosta elicited Trump’s ire by continually questioning the President concerning the White House’s rhetoric about the migrant caravan and other hardball issues. The President eventually became testy and demanded Acosta stop talking.
While the President spoke over Acosta, a White House intern approached the reporter and attempted to take his microphone away. What happened next is the subject of no small amount of debate on the internet.
BREAKING: White House aide grabs and tries to physically remove a microphone from CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta during a contentious exchange with President Trump at a news conference. pic.twitter.com/Ml1OvlXpa9
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 7, 2018
Whether or not Acosta made a downward motion with his arm, intending to strike the intern with a karate chop – and how intense an action this was – appears to be the basis of the debate.
By some accounts, the reporter merely pulled his arm away from the intern, said “Pardon me, ma’am,” and covered the microphone so he could continue doing his job. Others weren’t so dismissive.
"He never once touched her."
That is a complete lie. He clearly did.
Is whatever you're paid by CNN really worth making a total fool out of yourself for the world to see? pic.twitter.com/vgDynDQWJf
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) November 8, 2018
And that brings us to President Trump’s Press Secretary, who thought it would be a good idea to defend the POTUS by sharing a video uploaded and edited by Infowars’ Editor-At-Large and far-right provocateur Paul Joseph Watson.
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
The White House is painting the incident as an example of CNN’s “outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration,” and as “a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”
As a result, there’s plenty of debate going on concerning the validity of the video and what Watson’s version really shows, much of it incited by Watson himself.
The short version is that he claims his video wasn’t doctored in any way because he took a video from a news site and merely zoomed in. But the clip he used is a GIF, not a video, which explains why it looks different using the “eyeball test,” and why the argument is a semantic one.
And, that’s the real moral of this story: a semantics debate is a tried-and-true way to obscure an issue until the public tires of it.
President Trump, it appears to many, issued a ban on a member of the free press for being “rude.” And Press Secretary Sanders made sure the headlines were about her and Infowars. This should help serve to stave off any need for the GOP to seriously discuss this unprecedented reinterpretation of the US Constitution by a sitting President.
Say what you will about Sanders’ ethics, morals, integrity, or commitment to her country; but she appears to have gone above and beyond the call of duty in her service to Donald Trump this week.