Critical mass has been reached concerning the hostility between CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta and President Trump. The display at the press conference this week was embarrassing and unnecessary.
The back story is important here. CNN is the lowest rated cable news network even though it has embraced a “hate-Trump” posture. Every on-air person in the organization well understands they are encouraged to incorporate a negative tone into anything Trump.
MSNBC also has that philosophy - and its personnel is better at bringing the hate than the CNN people, with one exception: Jim Acosta.
As someone who has interviewed five presidents, I know it is a difficult task.
Viewers expect straightforward questions that elicit information. But often presidents do not want to answer certain queries and that’s when things can get bumpy.
Do you insist on an answer? Do you point out the dodge? How do you handle a president who is hostile to you?
Skilled journalists know that you can be persistent without being disrespectful. A reporter might not like the president, but he or she should always respect the office. That doesn’t mean you forgo tough questions, I never did that, but it does mean you think about your tone and phrasing.
Mr. Acosta does not do that. He apparently wants to goad Donald Trump into a confrontation. Here’s how Acosta lighted the fuse the other day.
“As you know, Mr. President, the caravan is not an invasion...”
First of all, that is Acosta’s opinion. It is a statement, not a question. Acosta knows that the President has labeled thousands of migrants heading for the southern border an invasion. So the White House correspondent for CNN is deliberately taking a contrarian point of view trying to provoke a response, rather than asking why Mr. Trump considers the march an invasion.
It is Jim Acosta’s job to get information to CNN viewers, not be captain of the debate team. If he wants to give opinions, CNN should give him a primetime show.
And then there’s the tone. In a followup, Acosta actually asked a question. But did so in an accusatory way.
“But do you think that you demonized immigrants ...?”
President Trump obviously does not think he did that. So why the edge on Acosta’s part? Why the fuse?
All he had to say was something like this: “Mr. President some people believe that you have overreacted to the migrant situation and used it for political gain. Have you considered that?”
Tough but fair, right?
But again, CNN does not want to secure information from President Trump, the network wants to make him look bad. And Mr. Acosta is happy to do that by being as insulting as possible.
Predictably, President Trump lashed out at Mr. Acosta calling him rude and a bad person. That’s gold for CNN as it hits the internet all over the world, and Acosta gets to play the victim.
Another successful day at the office.
I really hate to say this, but the Trump administration would be in the right if it pulled Acosta’s credentials. The well is simply filled with too much poison and presidential press meetings are being disrupted by the CNN-driven carnival.
Maybe the network brings back Larry King to replace Acosta.
Well, that may be over-adjusting.