CNN’s Jim Acosta pushed a White House intern’s arm during a press conference Wednesday and then lied about it. This altercation and the aftermath are a perfect example of how the Trump administration effectively uses media members’ sense of self-importance against them.
When President Trump called on another reporter at Wednesday’s briefing, Acosta tried to squeeze in another question, prompting a female White House intern to approach him and attempt to grab the microphone. In response, Acosta leveled his hand on her arm in a karate-chop like motion to keep the microphone out of her grasp.
Nevertheless, in an interview about the incident later, Acosta lied, claiming that he had never touched the young woman.
“Obviously, you know, I didn’t put my hands on her or touch her, as they are alleging. And it’s just unfortunate that the White House is saying this,” Acosta said.
Acosta clearly does touch her in the video. To state otherwise is fake news. While it doesn’t appear that he used enough force to have injured her, it’s clear he was acting boorish and using his body in a way that he probably would not have if that White House intern were male. Despite his “Pardon me, ma’am,” he used force to physically overpower her so he could continue talking after the president had called on another reporter.
Hours after the briefing, the White House Press Office announced that Acosta’s press credentials were suspended until further notice, due to his behavior towards the young woman.
“We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question.”
She also tweeted footage of the incident that had been slowed down to show what happened.
We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. pic.twitter.com/T8X1Ng912y
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
CNN Doubles Down On The Fake News
In response, CNN said Acosta had the network’s full support and claimed that Sanders lied.
The revocation of his pass ‘was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,’ the statement said.’ In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.’
CNN’s Brian Stelter accused Sanders of tweeting a “distorted” video.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 8, 2018
He also retweeted another tweet that claimed the video was doctored “to make it look like he’s doing a karate chop or something.”
This video is doctored. It's slowed down and then sped up at the moment Acosta's hand comes down to make it look like he's doing a karate chop or something. This is shameful propaganda. It's Orwellian. https://t.co/in8m3iHn18
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) November 8, 2018
The video Sanders tweeted had been slowed down to show the incident in greater detail, but it did not invent or make up the part where Acosta’s arm comes into contact with the intern’s.
In a segment a few hours after the incident, around mid-afternoon, Acosta tried to play off the whole thing as if he is the victim in all of this because he was impeded from asking President Trump tough questions.
“When they go low, we keep doing our jobs,” Acosta said. He then went on to claim that Trump was “attacking journalists of color” at Wednesday’s briefing.
“He was attacking my friend April Ryan, at one point telling her to sit down,” he said.
But this claim that Trump’s harsh words towards Ryan were somehow racially motivated is insane if you watch the clip. At the briefing, Ryan interrupted Saagar Enjeti, an Indian-American who is the White House correspondent for The Daily Caller, before he could ask a question after being called upon. President Trump scolded her for being rude and interrupting Enjeti, then proceeded to take a question from him and answer it.
Trump scolds April Ryan: "Sit down!" pic.twitter.com/WKjxWAFgYs
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 7, 2018
Three Years In, CNN Still Doesn’t Get ‘Fake News’ Game
Here’s a tally of all the things Acosta and CNN have lied about thus far related to this story.
- Acosta said he did not touch the White House intern, when video footage shows he did.
- He called Sanders a liar, claiming she made up a physical altercation involving him and the intern.
- His colleagues claimed Sanders released doctored footage, implying that the footage released invented the physical contact, although it also can be observed while watching the full video at normal speed.
- He claimed Trump was “attacking journalists of color” for telling one African-American reporter to stop interrupting an Indian-American reporter.
In Stelter’s nightly e-mail newsletter, he described Acosta’s behavior as “effective.”
Acosta is a thorn in the side of the administration. He has been one of the most aggressive reporters on the Trump beat, winning him huge numbers of fans as well as critics. The pro-Trump media loves to mock him. Some press critics say he’s a showboat. But he thinks his style is effective — and necessary — at this moment in time. And many viewers agree with him. Personally, I like that different W.H. reporters have different styles. Some are more confrontational than others. That’s a good thing. That’s part of what makes the free press FREE.
The “Reliable Sources” host is right about Acosta being effective, except not at all in the way he described. Acosta’s badgering and sexist behavior have not made him a fearless reporter holding those in power to account, but has made him a useful White House whipping boy.
When Trump calls him “fake news,” it is much easier now for the American people to get behind that message, because they know Acosta has repeatedly lied about a physical altercation that was caught on tape. This fight against the “fake news media” has proved to be an effective one for Trump. Yet CNN decided to double down on Acosta’s tactics, proving that after three years, they don’t at all understand why Trump keeps winning this game.