Trump, Not Acosta, Is the ‘Rude, Terrible Person’ [OPINION]
This may be hard for those of you proudly wearing MAGA hats and Trump t-shirts to understand, but CNN’s Jim Acosta did not deserve to have his “hard pass” revoked at the White House, despite the narrative being pushed by the president and his minister of propaganda.
The reasoning given by the White House for the revocation of the pass, which is intended to speed up access for certain members of the press to the White House grounds, is because Acosta allegedly put his hands on a female intern during Wednesday’s post-midterm election press conference with President Trump, when the intern was trying to wrest the mic away from Acosta during a particularly heated exchange with the president over the immigrant caravan.
First off, let’s end some of the garbage rhetoric right now: Acosta is not an accoster. He did not attempt to “karate chop” an intern’s hands away from the microphone. And he’s not a bully for asking the president hard questions that Trump just doesn’t want to answer. These are the narratives that Trumpers have been putting forth for more than 24 hours now—including White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sharing allegedly doctored video to paint Acosta as having physically assaulted the intern.
Those who are crying about Acosta being a “bully” and a “glory hog” for trying to make the White House press conferences about himself are forgetting one thing: neither Trump nor Sanders ever needs to actually call upon him during a presser. If they didn’t want to have an exchange with him, they could just ignore him and chose to only take questions from “friendly” reporters.
If they’re truly afraid the “fake news media” is going to take whatever they say and turn it around to fit some agenda, why say anything to them at all? If you’re fully intending not to answer the questions they’re going to pose to you, then why even give any kind of semblance of fairness in who you let ask questions in the first place?
The answer: because you’re looking for a fight. And that’s exactly the way Trump played it.
Acosta did not grandstand. He did not bully. He in fact stated his intent to “challenge” one of the president’s own statements. Acosta was absolutely correct in asking why the president would characterize the migrant caravan as “an invasion,” when the migrants have stated they intend to seek legal asylum in the United States. It is factually incorrect to call them “invaders.” And when Acosta asked Trump about “demonizing immigrants,” Trump gave a fair response in saying he wants them to be able to enter the country, but just to do so legally.
The questioning turned to Trump’s allegedly racist campaign ad that many networks—including the president’s own beloved Fox News—refused to air. Trump defended the ad by saying the immigrants seen climbing over the wall “weren’t actors,” another fair point.
But when Acosta turned the questioning to the fact that the immigrant caravan is still hundreds of miles away, Trump is the one who became dismissive. “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you stick to running CNN,” he told Acosta. “And if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”
So, according to Trump supporters, it’s against the decorum of covering the White House for a reporter to ask challenging questions of a sitting president, but it’s okay for that president to be critical and launch attacks at the person asking the questions? And Acosta was one of several journalists Trump decided to demean during the presser.
When Acosta continued to press with a follow-up question, Trump chastised him like a child. “That’s enough. Excuse me, that’s enough,” he said, before ending an ensuing exchange with, “I’ll 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.”
Well, Mr. President, how about I’m ashamed to have you working for me? Because you are a rude, terrible person, and you shouldn’t be the President of the United States.
Your behavior during Wednesday’s press conference just reiterated what many of us have known since before you even came down that escalator—you just don’t have the temperament to be able to withstand the slings and arrows that come with the office.
The level of hypocrisy coming out of this White House over the past two years has been unbearable, and it’s only going to get worse as Trump is bound to portray himself as being victimized by a Democrat-controlled House.
But then again, that’s the modus operandi of most bullies—spin the situation to make it look like you’re the victim just sticking up for yourself.
Acosta’s job is to ask the president the tough questions that get to the very bottom of what the man is thinking when he makes the decisions or makes the statements that he does. He is the voice for the people that would want to have the chance to pose that same question themselves. Yes, Acosta can “bait the hook” a bit when asking questions of Trump or Sanders, but inevitably, one of them bites.
As for “assaulting” the intern when trying to keep her from taking the mic, one only needs to look at the video evidence—the real video evidence that is, not the allegedly edited version circulating among Trump’s base.
However, an allegedly edited version was tweeted out by Paul Joseph Watson, who is tied into Alex Jones' Infowars.com website--the same website that alleges the Sandy Hook massacre was all a hoax, and has faced bans from numerous social media sites for its repeatedly divisive and demonstrably false rhetoric. The allegations are that someone intentionally "sped up" Acosta's physical interaction with the intern to make it look as if he is trying to "karate chop" her arm away from the microphone.
This was the version that Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided to tweet out in her reasoning behind Acosta's suspension, which CNN and multiple other outlets have pointed to as "false evidence" of a physical assault.
Of course, those who don’t want to believe it are sure to ask: would someone really go through the trouble of editing the video to make it look as if Acosta swiped at the intern, rather than just made a defensive move against her taking the microphone from him? The answer is absolutely yes. If Watson is part of the Infowars operation that perpetuates the false conspiracy theory that no kids died at Sandy Hook, it's not out of the realm of possibility they would just speed up a little bit of video footage to make it look more damning.
And there's the other side of it: if Acosta attempting to keep the intern away from the mic was a physical assault, then why wasn't he equally assaulted in her attempts to grab the mic away?
But you know what? In the end, Trump got exactly what he wanted out of that press conference: a distraction. A distraction from the Democrats taking the House on Tuesday night. A distraction from the president firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday afternoon. A distraction from putting Matthew Whitaker in charge of the Justice Department, which will likely begin the systematic dismantling of the Mueller investigation.
But the end result—exerting a level of oppression against what is supposed to be a free and unabated press—could prove far more damaging thany any of the things from which Trump was trying to distract us.
Tim Weisberg is the digital managing editor of WBSM and Fun 107. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TimWeisberg. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.