On January 17, after much anticipation, President Donald Trump released the winners of his fake news awards. CNN was a big winner of the night, clinching several awards. CNN’s Jim Acosta was part of a panel discussion at the Newseum when the awards were announced; Politico’s Cristiano Lima, who came to ask a question, informed the room that the awards were live, albeit inaccessible to many due to the high traffic to the RNC’s site. Acosta appeared to not be amused, but gave his two-cents anyway, claiming that Trump is the real king of fake news, despite his network’s multiple trip-ups when it comes to reporting on this White House (via RCP):
I would say, having been called fake news myself, that the President of the United States is the king of fake news. He is the king of fake news.
He said Barack Obama was not born in this country. He said Mexicans are rapists and criminals. He has said many things. He has said he lost the election because undocumented people voted by the millions. He said that he had the largest inauguration crowd of all time. The list goes on and on.
And I don't want people to think that I am saying that because I have an ax to grind or I am here to criticize or be political or have an agenda or whatever you were saying earlier, it's just a fact. We’ve been saying there’s an apple and there’s a banana. You know, we’ve been sticking to apples. They’ve been throwing a lot of bananas.
It's unfortunate that the president has sunk to that level where he has to go around issuing these kinds of awards. It's just not what you would think would happen in this country.
“When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. […] When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you; they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting.”
You might well dislike Trump’s words. I did. But let’s not make it worse. He did not say that all Mexicans are rapists. Yet that’s what many commentators did. For example, Politico misquoted Trump by omitting his phrase about “good people.” They said he was “demonizing Mexicans as rapists.” They argued that Mexicans do not really commit more rapes in the U.S. than whites. But that’s not what Trump claimed.
It is no wonder that many people think the media is grossly dishonest. No wonder Mr. Trump’s critiques of the media make his followers cheer.
Trump was discussing crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants.
"My belief, is that the President of the United States is acting in a way that is simply un-presidential when it comes to dealing with members of the press. It is not right to call us the enemy of the people." --@Acosta at tonight's @Newseum event on #PressFreedom in #US— CPJ (@pressfreedom) January 18, 2018
As for the birther comments and illegal votes, the latter is more in line with conjecture. Frankly, it doesn’t matter since Trump won the election. Second, the birther nonsense is just that, but it got ratings, it got press attention, and if there is one master of getting the media to do his bidding without them knowing it—it’s Trump. He was able to get $2 billion in free media from them during the primaries. So, keep that in mind. CNN and the rest of the news media’s stains on the truth are much worse. The markets didn’t tank 350 points when Trump spouted off birther nonsense; it did when ABC News’ Brian Ross peddled some grossly inaccurate information about Michael Flynn being ordered to make contact with the Russians. ABC News said it was during the campaign, it was actually after Trump won the election. Not saying that dabbling in birther nonsense is good, but there’s this holier than thou aspect that was seen with Acosta.
He took pride that his network only dealt in apples, and that he doesn’t have an axe to grind. That’s patently false. Look at the questions he threw at Trump before the president tossed him out of the Oval Office while doing a photo op with the president of Kazakhstan.
He asked, “Mr. President, did you say that you want more people to come in from Norway? Did you say that you wanted more people coming in from Norway?” and “Just the Caucasian or white countries, sir? Or do you want people to come in from other parts of the world?” You can read that as a question, while others could point out that it could be construed as an accusation. The goal: painting Trump as a racist. It’s all part of the narrative. Yeah, this network deals in apples and not bananas. The list speaks for itself. Of all the examples, the most embarrassing has to be botching reporting on feeding koi fish with the Japanese prime minister. It was feeding fish—and CNN fumbled the ball on that one. We all make mistakes, yes. But fixing them promptly and acknowledging them is key. CNN and ABC News still have to learn on that front. For Ross’ shoddy Trump-Russia story, it took them several hours to correct.