CNN’s Jim Acosta apparently decided the day after the midterms was a good day to make himself the story once again. Today, Acosta’s “question” was about the migrant caravan current making its way through Mexico toward the U.S. border. I put the word question in quotes because this is not how questions usually work:
“Thank you, Mr. President, I want to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign, in the midterms,” Acosta said.
“Here we go,” Trump replied. When Acosta started to hem and haw, Trump waved his hand in exasperation, “Come on, let’s go.”
“…that this caravan was an invasion,” Acosta said.
“I consider it to be an invasion,” Trump resplied.
“As you know, Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion, Acosta said. He continued, “It’s a—it’s a—a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.” You may have noticed that sentence didn’t end in a question. Acosta is the guy who comes to the mic during a Q&A to make a rambling statement instead of ask a question.
“Thank you for telling me that, I appreciate that,” Trump responded dryly.
“Why did you characterize it as such?” Acosta asked, even though Trump had already answered that question.
“Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion,” Trump replied calmly.
“But do you think that you demonized immigrants…?” Acosta asked.
“Not at all, no. Not at all,” Trump replied.
Acosta continued to argue over with the president over whether his campaign ad had been fair, pointing to images of people climbing over a wall. Trump replied that no one seen in the ad was an actor, i.e. these are things that really happened.
“They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away though. They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away. That’s not an invasion,” Acosta said. You’ll notice, once again, that this is a statement, not a question. The implied question, i.e. ‘Why did you call it that?’ has already been answered twice. Finally, Trump lowered the boom.
“You know what, honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump said.
At this point, Acosta has had a minute and a half for his “question.” As the president tried to move on to another reporter, Acosta kept demanding more time for himself. Trump said, “That’s enough” at least five times, pointing directly at Acosta but Acosta kept talking over him, demanding to ask a question about the Russia investigation. At one point, some intern or White House staffer actually came up to Acosta and tried to take the microphone away from him. When he refused to let it go, she squatted down in the front row and let the Acosta show continue.
Trump answered Acosta’s second question saying, “I’m not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it’s a hoax.” And again, Acosta kept arguing with the president as if this were a debate between two candidates at a town hall event.
Trump, clearly exasperated, finally walked away from the podium until Acosta sat down. When he returned to the podium he said, “I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.” Here’s the clip:
Here’s the thing about this. I actually agree with Acosta that the caravan is not an invasion, though I do think it represents a serious problem if those people a) sneak across the border as seems possible or b) encourage several more caravans to follow their example (as is already the case). But put the underlying question aside for a moment and just look at this exchange. Acosta has stopped even pretending to be trying to ask questions and has become something closer to a left-wing protester. He’s been doing this for months. He behaved this way when the president was in England a few months ago and he’s done it when the president couldn’t possibly hear or respond to him.
He’s not reporting at this point, he’s performing resistance theater for the cameras.
In the past, there have been a few voices saying that Acosta was not acting like a professional, but you can bet Acosta’s virtue is going to be defended from the rooftops all day today. In fact, as you can see in the clip above, the very next reporter got the ball rolling by praising Acosta right after this happened. I’ll be surprised if there’s a single note of concern that maybe, just maybe, telling the president his answer to your question is wrong is a bit beyond the role of a reporter. Acosta could start doing funny voices during his questions at this point and it wouldn’t matter. So long as he has Trump as his foil, the left will love him and the media will defend him.
All you have to do to see how much media bias is involved her is imagine a conservative reporter getting up and behaving exactly this way toward President Obama, i.e. telling the president he’s wrong and refusing to move on for two full minutes while interrupting him. The left would be savaging that reporter before the room had even cleared. No one at CNN would think this was acceptable if the party labels were reversed, not even Jim Acosta.
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) November 8, 2018
Naturally, Acosta recorded this.
The US Secret Service just asked for my credential to enter the WH. As I told the officer, I don’t blame him. I know he’s just doing his job. (Sorry this video is not rightside up) pic.twitter.com/juQeuj3B9R
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
To be clear, I would not support the White House freezing out an entire news outlet because it didn’t like their coverage. Obama tried that with Fox News and it was wrong. But pulling the credentials of one reporter who behaved badly during today’s press conference, i.e. talking over the president and refusing to move on when asked repeatedly, seems fair game.
That said, I suspect CNN is going to go full court press on this now. Is there anyone there who can separate the principle of showing some respect the office from the left-wing imperative to afflict the current office holder? I don’t think so. It’s too personal now.
The next Democratic president is not going to enjoy it when the right does exactly the same thing that Acosta is doing now. Not at all.