It takes a special kind of obnoxious belligerence for a reporter to go one on one with President Trump and lose badly, yet double down later to try to make yourself look good. CNN’s Jim Acosta was on the receiving end of a comeuppance delivered by Dr. Deborah Birx during Friday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing.
It turns out that Dr. Birx, the person appointed to be the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, didn’t appreciate it when Acosta tried to score political points. Dr. Birx was addressing the “who knew what when” part of the coronavirus pandemic as we know it so far when Acosta interrupted her and tried to mansplain how the bad Orange Man botched the U.S. response from the get-go.
“We can talk about why didn’t Italy do something or Spain do something or Germany do something, or we can really say right now — we all can do something,” Dr. Birx explained. “We can do the social distancing and all of the pieces that we know is starting to work around the globe in country after country. And then when we get through all of this, we can ask the questions about could we have done some piece of this better as a global community.”
“I will remind you that on February 3rd, the head of the WHO said there was no reason to ever do a travel ban,” Dr. Birx continued. “It wasn’t until January 14th that we knew that there was human-to-human transmission.”
Acosta quickly derailed her observations about WHO to knock President Trump.
“Dr. Birx, the president was saying this was going to go away,” Acosta said. “It’s April.”
And, the president jumped in at that point to defend himself. Acosta had to have known that Trump wouldn’t just stand there and let him try to point a finger at him. Acosta’s not new there. “It is going to go away,” President Trump fired back. “I said it was going away and it is going away.” Imagine the cojones of a reporter from CNN, of all news outlets, to try to point a finger of blame for what he thinks was some sort of incompetence exhibited by the president. CNN is proven consistently wrong about major stories that attack Trump and his presidency, after all. Russia, Russia, Russia, anyone?
Criticism of Acosta’s stunt was noticed by both sides of the political aisle on social media. Democrat Jonathan Turley quickly called out Acosta while noting that other reporters were not acting like jackwagons.
Jim Acosta's interruption of Dr. Birx is an example of how CNN's echo-journalism model is destroying the media's credibility. Every question from Acosta is an effort to score points rather than elicit information. It is a press pandemic that continues to rage without relief.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) April 3, 2020
Other reporters today asked appropriately hard-hitting questions of Trump. For example, the assertion that the "shelves were empty" seems clearly overstated and wrong. As Jonathan Karl recently noted in his book, Acosta's questions seem more statements of the political opposition
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) April 3, 2020
Since Acosta brought up that this is now April, as if Dr. Birx didn’t know what month it is, it is now clear, in April, that when Trump downplayed the worst-case scenarios during the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, he did so to try and avoid mass panic. That’s his job – to keep Americans calm in the face of adversity. An argument can be made that he may have continued the happy talk for too long but the fact is that even as he was saying those words publicly, he was acting to protect the country.
The timeline Dr. Birx was re-telling is important. The coronavirus story was beginning to be told in China, where it originated, by the end of 2019. As it began to spread to America, President Trump – at the recommendation of advisers, including Dr. Fauci – barred entry into the country of those traveling from China on January 31. At that time, critics like Acosta and his Democrat cohorts were busy calling that action as racist and xenophobic. The coronavirus task force was formed even before that – on January 29.
Perhaps Acosta was upset that Dr. Birx was rightly calling out the W.H.O. for its failures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump deranged reporters like Acosta would like nothing more than for members of the task force to side with a communist country responsible for a pandemic and its global cheerleader, the W.H.O. than to listen to the American experts in charge. If Acosta and his ilk are so indignant over the alleged lies of Trump, why haven’t they taken China to task for lying and allowing the pandemic to spread in the first place?
So, Acosta was a guest on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN Friday night. In order to puff himself up, he said that Trump should be humbled by just how wrong he has been about the coronavirus. Anderson Cooper asked Acosta about the number of possible deaths if models are correct and there isn’t a nationwide effort to shelter in place, as Dr. Birx recommends.
“I think as Sanjay [Gupta] was saying, we don’t know what we don’t know. You would think at this point, Anderson, the president would be humbled somewhat by being wrong so many times.”
Acosta continued, “I pressed him at one point, I said it’s April, you said this was going to be over by April.”
“And he said it is going to be over – he’s just not dealing with the reality of the fact that he’s been wrong, health and scientist experts have been right and he can’t grasp that reality,” Acosta concluded.
Acosta says this stuff without a nod to the irony of his remarks. As I said, no network has proven to be more wrong than CNN about the Trump administration. The network’s constant stream of “now we’ve got him” stories about the president should have humbled Acosta and his colleagues long ago.
I’m with Dr. Birx – now is not the time to point fingers, criticize others, and devolve into petty, partisan politics. Now is the time to unite and do what has to be done to end this national nightmare.