Maybe “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is real after all.
CNN has filed a lawsuit in support of its chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, whose “hard pass” to enter the White House was suspended by the Trump Administration after Acosta rudely disrupted a news conference with President Trump last week. Anyone other than a Beltway “journalist” who tuned in saw Acosta delivering a fairly-accurate impression of a toddler at Chuck-E-Cheese being told he was disrupting his classmate’s birthday party: bellowing, interrupting, waving hands wildly, scuffling with an intern and refusing to surrender the microphone (which, incidentally, was not his but rather The White House’s.) All that was missing was Acosta spinning his head 360-degrees and vomiting pea soup like Linda Blair in the film The Exorcist.
My guess is this was not what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they enshrined in the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. The move to pull Acosta’s credentials involved no member of Congress, no law, and only a myopic jurist (even in Washington, D.C.) could interpret the aftermath of his grotesquely juvenile stunt as “abridging” freedom of CNN, the press, or anyone else other than Acosta…who last week seemed more suited as a villain in the next annual Wrestlemania than someone who should have access to the White House.
The pathetic part of all this is that the White House had to take action because Acosta’s bosses at CNN apparently refused to.
CNN’s president Jeff Zucker seemed like a nice enough fellow when my Salem Radio Network partnered with CNN for four 2016 Republican presidential debates. But after Donald Trump’s election as our 45th president, CNN transformed from James Earl Jones’ voiceover as “The Most Trusted Name In News” into a virtually nonstop 24/7 parade of Trump-bashing conspiracy theorists, news “anchors” who spit out Russia/StormyDaniels/Racism & White Nationalism nonstop except for brief sidebars about things like, oh, giant chunks of California burning to the ground. Then it’s right back to beating up Donald Trump. Wearying, but hey: its their business model and that’s why God invented the on/off button on our TV remotes.
With that as the backdrop, it wasn’t surprising to find Jeff Zucker telling CNN’s news staff that “We’ve got your back” after the Acosta hard pass was yanked. Or that he postured CNN as helping protect “the rights of all journalists to hold those in power accountable and to ask hard questions.” Gotcha, Jeff. No problem with that concept or with your network believing you’re furthering that goal.
Not even surprised that the Associated Press—the print headquarters of the “Resistance” which has rarely found an anti-Trump story it didn’t deem worthy of worldwide distribution—chimed in to back Acosta. (AP’s thinly-veiled bias against the Trump Administration has been repeatedly documented in these columns.) Ditto the White House Correspondents Association, which delights in having vile, anti-Trump “comics” like Michelle Wolf entertain at their annual events. Sad, although par for the course.
But I must admit being astonished to find normally-sane media organizations like FOX News, Bloomberg and Gannett issue statements of support, standing behind Jim Acosta. This would have been the linear equivalent of the late Alistair Cooke from Masterpiece Theatre going to bat for Andrew Dice Clay or Howard Stern. Unthinkable, and hugely disappointing. And bad for our profession.
As previously noted, all of this could have been avoided if Acosta’s bosses at CNN had exercised a little management discretion. They chose not to.
For example—and with apologies as this is totally hypothetical—if Greg Clugston (our respected SRN White House correspondent who has been covering the White House many more years than Jim Acosta and who frequently travels with the President on Air Force One) had ever stood up at a White House news conference and announced he was going to ”debate” (!) and otherwise disrupt President Trump or Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Bill Clinton among others he has covered, it would be quite some time until he was sent back to The White House to represent us again. If ever. But we would still cover The White House, using another correspondent who respected that historic place and the person elected to lead America and most of the Free World.
CNN apparently has difficulty distinguishing between an actual journalist asking what Zucker calls “tough questions” and a belligerent relative throwing food and annoying everyone at Thanksgiving dinner: everyone knows he’s there…it just becomes a question of who is going to have the spine to stand up to him and invite him to hit the road until he can learn some manners.