By now, you've undoubtedly seen the video, and probably read about the battle over whether the White House's description of Jim Acosta's conduct is accurate -- and whether or not the video they shared was 'doctored.' My overall take is that while Acosta has become a performative, self-serving, attention-seeking blowhard who seems incapable of fairly covering a president whom he openly loathes, he did not "put his hands on" the young woman who was trying to wrest the microphone from him. He acted unprofessionally and disrespectfully, and probably deserves some sort of sanction. But pinning that sanction on any sort of "physical" altercation looks dishonest, in my view. Any contact between the two was incidental. You be the judge. Here's the exchange -- which, I'll note, began with Acosta making an opinionated assertion, as opposed to asking a truth-seeking question:
President Trump to Jim @Acosta: "You should let me run the country. You run CNN."— CSPAN (@cspan) November 7, 2018
"That's enough. Put down the mic. CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude terrible person." pic.twitter.com/GR9TIbKUok
In any case, when this first blew up on Wednesday, Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace tore into Acosta in no uncertain terms:
"It was classic Trump, and you saw all the notes that he can play," Wallace said on Fox when asked about Trump's pushback toward Acosta. "He was combative, at times. He got into a fight with Jim Acosta of CNN. I have to say, I thought Acosta's behavior was shameful," Wallace continued. "Most of the people there were serious reporters asking serious questions. But Jim Acosta, I thought, embarrassed himself today," Wallace added later.
A CNN spokesperson fired back, smearing all of Fox News as "state TV" and adding a personal jab about Wallace's integrity:
Hey Chris, at least @Acosta doesn’t work for state TV. Must be hard to sleep at night. Also, curious, I can’t find your comments about how “shameful” it was when your colleagues campaigned for @realDonaldTrump the other night. https://t.co/jKgL6QJznW— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) November 7, 2018
Wallace is a pro, and his reputation for asking tough but fair questions to both sides is well-earned. He was clearly unmoved by CNN's ankle-nipping, considering his follow-up performance yesterday. After the White House indefinitely revoked Acosta's access (again, I think this was an overreaction that they justified poorly), Wallace appeared with Dana Perino to discuss the issue. Once again, zero punches were pulled:
"Jim Acosta strikes me as a showboat who would like to get attention more than he'd like to get answers...we [journalists] do have to stick together, but I've gotta say, Jim Acosta makes it awfully hard to have journalistic solidarity..."
Wallace also said that he was "troubled" by the administration's decision to yank Acosta's hard pass, with Perino apparently agreeing, calling the move "disproportionate." She also made the astute observation that in previous dust-ups between the White House and the press corps, efforts were made to de-escalate; in this grudge match, though, both the president and Acosta appear incentivized to keep the fight brewing. Perino is also right, by the way, that there are people inside CNN who will privately grouse that Acosta is...well, a showboat who would like to get attention more than he'd like to get answers. For now, it remains The Trump Show, all day and all night, with it's less-popular spin-off, The Jim Acosta Show.