Yesterday, when the nation should have been focused on the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives or Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions — perhaps paving the way for him to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and scuttle the Russia investigation — we instead ended up talking about another instance of the Trump administration waging war against the free press. Whether it was simply a happy coincidence for the White House or a deliberate tactical move to distract from the other two stories is less important than the simple fact that it was effective.
During a press conference, Trump had a contentious showdown with CNN’s Jim Acosta, during which one of Trump’s aides tried to snatch the microphone out of the reporter’s hand. Acosta refused to relinquish the microphone. Not long after, the administration announced that it had revoked Acosta’s White House access and immediately went into full spin mode.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to Twitter to blame the decision on Acosta “placing his hands” on the aide, misrepresenting the interaction as some kind of overly physical interaction or possibly even an assault. To back up her bad faith argument, she shared a slowed down and edited video of the incident.
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
Reporters all across Twitter immediately pounced on Huckabee Sanders, criticizing her for sharing the doctored clip, some accusing her of ripping the edited video right off Alex Jones lizard Illuminati conspiracy website InfoWars or perhaps directly from far-right, white nationalist adjacent personality Paul Joseph Watson who is a former editor InfoWars.
If so it wouldn’t be the first time Trump or his cronies flirted with the hateful fake news site, but that doesn’t make it any less egregious. The White House owes Acosta an apology but given their horrible track record, one would be a fool to expect one to be forthcoming.
Luckily, enough journalists and media personalities have weighed in to render the White House’s position absurd for anyone who bothers to look into it. Some even pointed out that under a sane administration, this kind of thing would be grounds for the Press Secretary’s firing or resignation.
Here’s an assortment of the strongest responses:
This is a video that Infowars made. They sped it up so that it seems more violent than it is. https://t.co/FH1tsGSSaU
— Nicole Goodkind (@NicoleGoodkind) November 8, 2018
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) November 8, 2018
The White House Press Secretary tweeted a doctored Infowars video, solidifying her position as the most dishonest Press Secretary in history. That is something. https://t.co/rQgJnGfQq1
— Elise Jordan (@Elise_Jordan) November 8, 2018
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) November 8, 2018
In days of yore, tweeting out a doctored video cribbed from Infowars would be resignation territory for a White House press secretary.
Now, it's just Thursday.
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) November 8, 2018