Acosta, by informal acclamation of his peers, is considered the reporter most likely to become part of the news story of any given day. “He understands that this is a big show, he’s seen the Saturday Night Live parodies and he’s made a conscious effort to become one of the notable characters,” said a senior reporter who sits toward the front of the briefing room. Others told me they admired Acosta’s determination not to cower in front of the bully pulpit, but at the same time quietly bemoaned the delight the administration seems to take in sparring with him. One example: After Miller stepped away from the podium, he received high-fives from his colleagues.
From CNN’s vantage point, Acosta is standing up to a bully—both for a network that has been under attack by Trump and those who feel disenfranchised in the president’s America. But there is also a view inside the network’s newsroom that Acosta has been given the latitude, perhaps even the implicit assignment, to turn the briefing room into a personal editorial page because it is good television and reaffirms CNN’s integral role in the ongoing drama. “There’s some grumbling in the rank-and-file that this isn’t straight news,” said a senior person in the network’s newsroom. “But the higher up you go, the more people like what Jim’s doing or he wouldn’t be doing it.”