At Thursday’s White House press briefing, CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to bully Sarah Huckabee Sanders into parroting a line after him as if she were a six-year-old child. When she refused, he stormed out of the room and angrily tweeted about it.
In case you missed the past 48 hours of wall-to-wall media coverage, Acosta was heckled by Trump supporters at a rally the president spoke at in Tampa, Florida. While the White House correspondent was trying to do a standup report from the scene, rally-goers yelled “CNN SUCKS!” and other rude things at Acosta. For two days he was salty about it and tweeted that “the press is not the enemy,” a line later repeated in the form of a question to Ivanka Trump at an event.
The harassment Acosta faced got a gross level of nonstop attention, including this segment from “The Late Show,” in which Stephen Colbert fangirls over the CNN reporter’s “display of bravery.”
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) August 2, 2018
This brings us to Thursday afternoon at the White House briefing. Hours after President Trump’s daughter said the press is not the enemy of the people at an Axios event earlier that day, Acosta launched into a five-minute exchange with Sanders about the phrase.
“It would be a good thing if you were to state right here at this briefing that the press — the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier — are not the enemy of the people,” Acosta said. “I think we deserve that.”
As soon as Sanders tries to respond to Acosta’s soliloquy guised as a question, the CNN reporter immediately interrupts her. When the White House press secretary calls him out for interrupting not only herself but another female reporter moments earlier, Acosta doubles down, saying that he needed to interrupt because he didn’t like the things that she was saying!
He then went off on a long tirade comparing the harassment he faced as a reporter to the treatment Trump administration officials have received — being run out of eateries by a screaming mob, being chased to their cars, and getting threatened with death. He concludes his statement by insisting that Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeat his own words back to him. Here’s what he said, emphasis added.
You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people. . . We all get put through the wringer, we all get put through the meat grinder in this town and you’re no exception and I’m sorry that happened to you. I wish that did not happen.
But for the sake of this room, for the people in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you’re saying, Sarah, and the White House for the United States of America, the president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people? His own daughter acknowledges that and all I’m asking is you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.
He all but insists that Sanders must (FOR THE SAKE OF AMERICA) say exactly what Acosta wants her to say. Acosta is using free speech as a pretense to boss around a woman and tell her what to do and what to say in order to massage his pride that took a beating in Tampa.
When she refused to parrot Acosta’s own words back to him, because that is really demeaning and she can make her own choices in life, the CNN reporter stormed out of the room and tweeted angrily about it.
I walked out of the end of that briefing because I am totally saddened by what just happened. Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn't do it. Shameful.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 2, 2018
Boo hoo. Go home, Jim Acosta. Nobody cares about your hurt feelings.
As a member of the press myself, I do not think that we are the enemy of the public. That being said, it’s entirely possible to believe that and to think that the way certain members of the media conduct themselves (looking at you, Jim) is hurting American society and sowing seeds of mistrust in the minds of the public. CNN has some solid reporters who cover the White House fairly, Kaitlyn Collins and Sarah Westwood among them. But Acosta’s on-camera behavior isn’t winning over the trust of any Americans, especially those who might be skeptical of CNN’s coverage.
Sanders ought to be praised for refusing to parrot the words fed to her by a condescending male reporter. To insist that Sanders say exactly what Acosta wants her to say because he knows better is the definition of mansplaining, which the Left would lose their minds over if Sanders were not a conservative. And his subsequent behavior –storming out of the briefing room in a huff when he can’t have his way with her — is disrespectful. Just because a woman says something other than what a man told her to say does not make her words less valid, nor does it make her presence one that does not deserve respect.
To put this into terms that Jim Acosta can understand: Jim, for the sake of equality among the sexes, for feminism, for our daughters: all the people around the world are watching your treatment of women in the televised White House briefings. Your sexist behavior does not go unnoticed. All I’m asking you to do, Jim, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.