Via the Free Beacon, another day at the office for Trump’s least favorite network.
I didn’t see the press conference this morning and can’t find a transcript so I don’t know if it’s true that Trump took his first question from a friendly media outlet. But Acosta’s other two criticisms are half-truths at best. He’s right that Trump was wrong to claim that Obama did “nothing” to confront Putin about hacking during the campaign, but “next to nothing” would have been accurate. Remember, even Democrats have smacked O for his passivity in responding to Russia. Here’s former CIA chief Mike Morell in May:
MORELL: What struck me, Charlie, is that the U.S. government was concerned enough last summer about Russian interference in the election that they had the CIA director make contact with his Russian counterpart and tell them to stop and the Russians, clearly, didn’t. So my question is: What did the Obama administration do after that after they learned the warning had fallen on deaf ears?
NORAH O’DONNELL: Well, it appears they did nothing.
MORELL: It appears they did nothing.
Sanctions weren’t imposed until nearly two months after Election Day. Trump correctly diagnosed the reason for Obama’s inaction in this morning’s presser too: Quite simply, he thought Hillary would win the election. He didn’t want to do something dramatic to punish Russia before Americans voted for fear that Republicans would claim afterward, if she won, that Obama had “rigged” it by dragging Russia into it. So he held back, assuming that President Clinton would respond to Putin in a manner of her own choosing. That’s the full context for Trump’s remarks, not the truncated version Acosta gives.
His other critique, implying that Trump is making up the claim that only three or four intel agencies rather than 17 that named Russia as the hacking culprit, is just flatly and embarrassingly wrong. Eddie Scarry:
The New York Times last week, however, prominently corrected its own reporting on the matter.
In a story about Trump’s “deflections and denials about Russia,” it originally stated that “17 American intelligence agencies” concluded Russia had interfered in the election.
The Times’ subsequent correction said “the assessment was made by four intelligence agencies” and “not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”
The Times correction came just days ago and got a fair amount of attention online. How did Acosta miss it? And why, given CNN’s troubles lately, would he risk calling Trump out on it without checking first where the president had gotten his numbers? Granted, he’s doing spot analysis here after a live event, but if you’re unsure about the number you’re citing, maybe hang back on the “fake news conference” accusations. Jake Tapper warned his network (and others) two weeks ago that they need to be more diligent than Trump is in reporting the truth. Jeff Zucker apparently reinforced that message recently:
The day after the three resignations [over the Anthony Scaramucci piece], Mr. Zucker phoned in from London to a companywide conference call, telling employees that the heightened scrutiny meant there could be no room for error.
“My job is to remind everyone that they need to stay focused doing their job,” Mr. Zucker said on Wednesday, brushing off any suggestion that he was rattled. He added: “He’s trying to bully us, and we’re not going to let him intimidate us. You can’t lose your confidence and let that change the way you conduct yourselves.”
Yet here we are again. How are CNN’s reporters going to manage their visceral disdain for Trump so that it doesn’t interfere with their ability to get the facts right? Our recurring national problem of having two unreliable narrators is getting worse, not better.