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Trump Versus Acosta Is Bad for the Brain
Here's another take on the confrontation between Jim Acosta and President Trump. It's by John Daly.
When word came out that the White House was temporarily suspending the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta for "placing his hands" on a White House intern, I was reminded of a tweet I read last year from Iraq War veteran, J.R. Salzman:
Modern-day politics is just one giant game of soccer with everyone falling down pretending to be hurt.
— J.R. Salzman (@jrsalzman) May 11, 2018
I can't think of a better way to describe this latest chapter in the ongoing saga between President Trump and the mainstream press.
For those who missed yesterday's drama, here's a quick recap:
Mr. Trump held a post-midterms press conference in which he got into several heated (and sometimes bizarre) exchanges with reporters. When Jim Acosta (CNN's chief White House correspondent) was called on, the back and forth (which included some inappropriate editorializing by Acosta) grew particularly contentious. After delivering some barbs, the president instructed a White House intern to retrieve Acosta's microphone to hand it to another journalist. But when the young woman reached for it, Acosta improperly refused to give it up and continued to ask questions. The two bumped arms in the process:
One can certainly (and successfully) argue that Acosta was rude and obnoxious, and was trying (as he so often does) to make himself the story. Frankly, I think his showboating and temperament should have compelled CNN to remove him from the White House beat a long time ago. But the implication that he in any way assaulted or 'placed his hands on' the intern is ridiculous and insulting (it was incidental contact at worst). Yet, that's what the White House stated as grounds for the suspension of Acosta's credentials, with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders even tweeting out a subtly sped-up version of the video to make the contact look stiffer than it actually was:
Unsurprisingly, pro-Trump partisans in the media were quick to bolster the "assault" theme, even before the White House made its announcement:
And on the other side, anti-Trump partisans categorized the suspension as an assault on the First Amendment, despite the fact that CNN can (and will) simply send another reporter in Acosta's place for the time being:
Quite a few people even pushed this mind-numbing narrative on social media, assuring that all sides got to be a victim for the day:
That intern assaulted Mr. Acosta. She attacked him in order to wrest the microphone from his hand and was therefore making an assault on the 1st Amendment.
— Jeff Lacey (@JeffLacey6) November 8, 2018
Perhaps the most ironic response came from Trump's 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who insisted that Sarah Sanders categorized Acosta's offense correctly:
Some of you may recall that Lewandowski actually did grab and yank a woman by the arm back in 2016, during the election. She was journalist Michelle Fields, and she came away from the incident with a good-sized bruise. Notably, both Lewandowski and Trump claimed at the time that Fields was lying about the incident. But a video was eventually produced that proved her right. Unfortunately, shameless hypocrisy is par for the course these days.
Anyway, I don't know about the rest of you, but I find the phony outrage in these instances to be exhausting, especially when both sides are benefiting from the theatrics. Jim Acosta gets the attention he craves, while presenting himself as a First Amendment martyr. President Trump and the White House get to change the news cycle off of the GOP losing the House to the Democrats.
The only person in this story that I have any sympathy for is the White House intern, who was placed in an awkward situation (which she handled well), and is now being disingenuously cast as either an assault victim or assailant, depending on who you listen to.
As Mr. Salzman said, it's all one big game. And in this game, the spectators (aka the American people) are once again being treated as utter fools.