Donald Trump has denied suggestions that a White House-released video depicting contact between a staffer and a CNN reporter was not altered, and he seemingly threatened to revoke the White House press credentials of more reporters.
The president insisted that the video distributed by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was simply a “close-up” and “was not doctored”.
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
“Nobody manipulated it. All that is is a close-up,” said the president, who then attacked the reporter for asking the question and called him “dishonest”.
A frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the incident at Mr Trump’s post-election news conference on Wednesday shows that the video tweeted by Ms Sanders appears to speed up CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s arm movement when he makes contact with a White House intern who was trying to take away his microphone.
The speed-up appears to make the gesture more threatening.
Mr Trump, speaking on Friday, also did not back off his administration’s decision to suspend Mr Acosta’s press credential, which allows the CNN correspondent access to the White House grounds.
“He’s a very unprofessional guy. I don’t think he’s a smart person but he has a loud voice,” Mr Trump told reporters in a testy 20-plus-minute exchange before he left for Paris and a First World War commemoration ceremony.
“You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.”
He said he had not decided if Mr Acosta’s pass would be reinstated and suggested there “could be others” who lose their credentials.
He belittled several reporters gathered around him, saying one had asked “a stupid question”, and singling out April Ryan, a correspondent for Urban Radio Networks, calling her “very nasty” and “a loser”.
Ms Ryan, who is also a CNN contributor, tweeted in response: “I love this country and have the most respect for the Office of the President. I will continue to ask the questions that affect America, all of America.”
Mr Trump’s latest attacks on the media came after his free-wheeling and contentious news conference two days earlier, and followed demands by several journalists and organisations — including the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the White House Correspondents Association — that Mr Acosta’s press pass be reinstated.
“It is the essential function of a free press in every democracy to independently gather and report information in the public interest, a right that is enshrined in the First Amendment,” said Julie Pace, AP’s Washington bureau chief.
“We strongly reject the idea that any administration would block a journalist’s access to the White House.”
Despite losing his White House pass, Mr Acosta travelled to Paris to cover Mr Trump’s trip to meet world leaders.
- Press Association