He’s not wrong:
You know the hand-wringing is inevitable: He’s suppressing the media! He’s trashing the First Amendment! He’s attacking the free press!
Balderdash. He’s doing no such thing. As I write this, the press conference he’s been holding since around noon is still going on and he’s standing there patiently answering every question he can, even though he understandably pushes back on the premises behind some of the questions.
Jim Acosta is an especially tiresome and egregious case. What he does is not “hold the president accountable” or “hold his feet to the fire” or whatever other self-important nonsense CNN likes to say about itself. What Acosta does is grandstand, and he does so rudely and obnoxiously.
And let’s talk for a second about this whole “asking tough questions” business. Acosta would have us believe that this is his job and that no one does it better than he does.
A very good, veteran journalist once told me something I will always remember: Your job is to get the best information for your readers or viewers. The “tough” question might be the one that gets you attention and makes your interview subject squirm, but it isn’t necessarily the one that will produce the best information.
If your reader or viewer is really who you are trying to serve, you will ask questions based on factual premises, designed to ensure that the president gives you a reply that sheds light on something. And if he isn’t willing to answer the question, at least the reader or viewer will know that the information sought was specific and legitimate, and will understand the purpose for which it was asked.
That is not what Acosta does. He stands up and puts accusations in the form of a question – accusations that are frequently tinged with histrionic falsehoods. Then he shouts over the subject’s attempts to answer the questions, often adding further accusations. He is there to start fights and put people on the defensive, and then go on camera later and tell you how proud you should be of him for doing so.
Acosta is a disgrace.
Even so, was it fair for Trump to rip into him so severely? It was absolutely fair. Look at the way Acosta approached the exchange that started the whole thing.
Concerning Trump’s characterization of the migrant caravan as an invasion, Acosta says, “As you know, it was not an invasion.” So right off the bat, Acosta presents the premise that Trump supposedly knows what he’s saying isn’t true. It’s like saying, “You’re lying and you know it. Why?”
That’s a classic Acosta “question,” which is to say it’s not a question at all. It’s an argument wrapped in an indictment, with a question mark at the end. It’s Acosta telling everyone, “Look at me! See how tough I am!”
And yet he’s also victim-mongering. Acosta knows he’s not going to get any useful information out of Trump by asking a question like that. It’s designed to create the very moment that will allow Acosta to go on the air later today and whine about how he was speaking truth to power and the president was such a meanie to him.
This is exactly the type of behavior people are tired of from the media. If you want to demand an answer from the president about something, then ask the question in a way that’s designed to elicit the answer. Don’t stand there and make yourself the show because you need everyone to look at you.
That’s what Jim Acosta does constantly. He is a disgrace. I can’t find a single word in Trump’s indictment of him to disagree with, nor can I disagree with Trump’s decision to say what he said.