During today’s White House briefing, five senior administration officials joined Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to address the administration’s efforts to prevent Russian interference in the 2018 elections. The press corps heard from FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone. But once again, CNN’s Jim Acosta wanted to make it about himself.
Acosta: I just wanted to follow up on Sarah’s question from NPR. She asked you about Ivanka Trump’s statement that the press is not the enemy of the people, and she asked you whether or not the press is the enemy of the people. You read off a laundry list of your concerns…but you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people. And I think it would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press [blah, blah, blah, extolling the supposed virtues of the members of the press he likes] I think we deserve that.
Acosta interrupts her a couple of times while she’s attempting to answer his question. Finally, she’s able to answer.
Sanders: It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attacked the president for his rhetoric when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country.
Repeatedly, the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger. The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your network. Said I should be harassed as a life sentence, that I should be choked. ICE officials are not welcomed in their houses of worship and their personal information is posted online.
When I was hosted by the Correspondent’s Association, of which almost of you are members, you brought in a comedian up to attack my appearance and called me a traitor to my own gender. In fact, as I know – as far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection. [Acosta tries again to interrupt] The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault on this president and everyone in this administration. Certainly we have a role to play, but the media has a role to play for the discourse in this country as well.
Acosta’s follow-up isn’t really a follow-up. He essentially says, “You’re not very special – we all get attacked. And if you don’t say what I’m demanding you say, that means you are calling me the enemy of the people.
Acosta: You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it from what you just said – we all get put through the wringer…in this town, and you’re no exception. And I’m sorry that that happened to you. I wish that that would not have happened. But, for the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country….and the President of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people. All I’m asking you to do Sarah is acknowledge that right now and right here.
Sure, that’s all he’s asking her to do. And since he said he’s sorry she had to go through these attacks, it means he’s not minimizing them.
Sanders: I appreciate your passion. I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the President. He’s made his comments clear.
Acosta, heartbroken by this oppression, left the briefing early.
Watch the exchange here:
Note the title MSNBC puts on the video.
Not content with the way he was smacked down, and still desiring more! more! more! media coverage, Acosta gave his own statement after the briefing. (Hey, Jim, didn’t they tell you in journo school that you’re supposed to report the news, not BE the news?)
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 2, 2018
Brooke looks like she’s about to laugh at Acosta, which would be priceless.
“I’m tired of this…I’m tired of this…I mean, she got yelled at at a restaurant in Virginia. I’m sorry about that. I feel badly for her that that happened. And that a comedian at a correspondent’s dinner said some mean things about her. I’m sorry about that. She ought to hear some of the things that were said to me the other night in Tampa…”
Wow. A few differences. She was with her family, not during work hours, attempting to have a meal together. You were at a public forum, on the job. And she wasn’t simply yelled at. She was kicked out, and people followed her and her family to another restaurant, still yelling. If what happened to Acosta in Tampa happened when he off the clock, with his family, having a meal, it would have been the height of rudeness to yell at him.
And yes, Jim, people in politics and journalism have to have a thick skin. We all have crappy things said to us and about us. That’s why we’re told to never read the comments. But, the woman was cruelly mocked at a work event with her colleagues by a comedian her colleagues brought in for that express purpose. That doesn’t strike you as a little severe and disgusting?
Acosta is right when he said the press isn’t the enemy of the people, if we consider “the press” as journalists who are as fair and unbiased as possible (knowing we’re all human and have some bias). The press today asks hard questions, which is a good thing. But they don’t apply the same standards to everyone at all times, which is apparent by the press reaction to Sanders’ refusal to surrender to his bullying.
Predictably, Sanders’ refusal to obey Acosta’s order is portrayed as a belief that the press is the enemy of the people.
An extraordinarily disappointing moment by @PressSec just now… Her inability to acknowledge the role POTUS has played in all of this media bashing only hurts her own credibility…She had a chance to defend the institution and take the high ground and show leadership, instead..
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) August 2, 2018
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
Disgusted by today’s White House press briefing. Why won’t @PressSec say the media is not “the enemy of the people?”
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) August 2, 2018
I am defending @Acosta . He is a friend and colleague. I am standing against a WH trying to intimidate me and letting them know I will have none of it
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) August 2, 2018
Guess what’s not being talked about while everyone focuses on this?