Are you sick of talking about Jim Acosta? So am I but I want to preserve this for posterity because it’s a great example of something the left-wing media does a lot, i.e. stampede in a certain direction (and let’s face it, it’s always the same direction) long before the facts are in.
Case in point, all day yesterday people like Nicholas Kristof, Ron Fournier, and many, many others were claiming the Jim Acosta video sent out by White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had been “doctored.”
This is stunning misconduct! First the White House bars @cnn reporter Jim @Acosta, and then it publicly shares a doctored video to manipulate public impressions. Not even the Nixon White House did anything this appalling. Words fail me. https://t.co/zbkY6pDBRk
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) November 8, 2018
Why would any editor send a reporter to a briefing by a White House press secretary who distributed a doctored video to justify false accusations against, and banishment of, a fellow journalist?
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) November 8, 2018
Perspective: Why the White House is pushing a doctored video https://t.co/HZcUnn9bKp
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 9, 2018
Yes, it can get worse: the regime allegedly doctored the video used to justify yanking Acosta's press credentials. https://t.co/75HSnrPlJ0
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) November 8, 2018
White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta https://t.co/yzxRbU2HMw
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) November 8, 2018
The White House News Photographers Association put out a statement about it:
— Zoe Daniel (@zdaniel) November 8, 2018
By last night even Stephen Colbert was on it:
"The fact that the White House press secretary is promoting this doctored video is reprehensible, and grounds for dismissal," Stephen Colbert said. Here's our late-night roundup. https://t.co/uOz7dbXOyl
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 9, 2018
But even as the entire left seized on this claim (see what I did there), there were other experts who came to different conclusions. As I noted yesterday, it’s not at all clear the video was doctored. Buzzfeed’s story made a compelling case that any minor differences between the two clips could be the result of changing framerates that occur when a standard video is transformed into a Gif file.
Also yesterday, Vice’s Motherboard vertical heard from an expert who said there was no evidence the video was doctored:
Hany Farid, who studies digital forensics, human perception, and image analysis at the University of California, Berkeley, told Motherboard that he does not think the video was doctored. Though he agreed that the entire video was, of course, slowed down and zoomed in to focus on the moment of physical contact, he does not see any evidence to suggest that it was selectively edited to exaggerate Acosta’s motion.
“From my review of the various videos of the press conference, I believe that the video tweeted by the Press Secretary is misleading but I don’t see unambiguous evidence that it has been doctored,” Farid told Motherboard via email. “A combination of a reduction in the quality of the video, a slowing-down of the video, and the particular vantage point of the CSPAN video gives the appearance that there was more contact between the reporter and the intern than there probably was. In particular, if you look at original, higher-quality videos from other vantage points you can more clearly see that while there was some contact between the reporter and intern, he did not strike her as his hand comes down.”
A second expert told Vice he found duplicate frames in the video but no evidence the clip had been sped up or otherwise manipulated:
Jeff Smith, the associate director of the National Center for Media Forensics at the University of Colorado, Denver, came to a similar conclusion. Smith told Motherboard via email that he could detect duplicate frames in the White House video, which could indicate it was doctored.
“There are duplicate frames at the moment of contact; 2 additional frames for no apparent reason but one could surmise that it could give the false impression of a split second more contact then there actually was,” Smith wrote. “Otherwise, the video is not slowed down and doesn’t appear to be altered on the pixel level as many people in the twitter-verse are claiming. These many accusations also come as a result of the heavy compression and interlacing of the video.”
So maybe someone added two extra frames but even if that’s true, it doesn’t prove this was doctored.
The point is that there were experts all over the map on this yesterday. There are those saying this was definitely doctored (the AP) and those saying it definitely was not (Vice) and several people in between saying this doesn’t appear to be doctored but does have a couple extra frames along with framerate, compression, and other issues that made it look different than the original C-Span clip. But as you can see above, there wasn’t a lot of nuance from many in the mainstream media yesterday. They all seemed to agree with just one set of experts and to ignore the other set who seemed more skeptical of the conclusion.
As I said yesterday, I have no desire to defend Infowars and don’t trust them or their denials, but these were independent experts with different views. It seems pretty evident that people pushing the “doctored” video claim were eager to take sides in the spat over Acosta by dismissing the White House defense as a blatant lie. A more nuanced take would have been more appropriate in this case.
And on that point, here’s some nuance. This is the best explanation I’ve seen of the extra frames claim. I’m not enough of an expert in video formats to know whether this proves it was edited or if this could happen from being converted to a Gif. But even if this is true, I don’t think the extra two frames do what people were claiming yesterday, i.e. make the movement more dramatic or speed it up to make it look like a karate chop. All the two frames do is freeze the video for a tiny fractin of a second when the arms were not moving. Anyway, here’s the clip so you can reach your own conclusion.
How the video the White House tweeted to justify Jim Acosta's suspension was doctored pic.twitter.com/tJeeKkwWPu
— The Independent (@Independent) November 8, 2018