The Jim Acosta Press Conference

It is no longer any great revelation that “journalists” are heavily biased toward liberal views. [1] Further, the media routinely exercises blatant bias against the President. [2] Therefore, we should not have been surprised to see Mr. Acosta from CNN arguing with the President at his recent press conference on November 7th, instead of asking questions and seeking answers as to the President’s positions on issues.

 Although we should not have been surprised that it has come to this, the  disrespect shown by Mr. Acosta to the President and his office that day should be very concerning to those of us who value the truth. Moreover, we should seriously consider the wider implications of this sort of behavior by the press.

So let’s examine these implications by reviewing what actually happened here. First of all, the President held a press conference. This is the first simple, but apparently overlooked, point. It was the President’s press conference. It was not Mr. Acosta’s press conference. The purpose of the press conference was to afford journalists the opportunity to ask questions seeking to elicit the President’s thinking about important issues of the day. An informal rule that I have observed operating at White House press conferences for this administration has been the allowance of one question and a follow-up for each journalist. Although this methodology does not usually allow every journalist present to ask a question, since there are so many of them, at least it provides some fairness and equal opportunity to be exercised. If conducted in this way, it is a valuable tool for the citizens of the United States, because it is important that we hear directly from our elected leader.

 So, what did Mr. Acosta actually do during his argument with the President that caused all of the controversy? The transcript is revealing. [3] It turns out that Acosta made the following statements:

 You said “that this caravan was an ‘invasion’.”

“As you know, Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion.”

 “It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.”

“But your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on.”

 “They’re (the migrants) not going to be doing that.”

“They’re hundres of miles of way [sic: “away”] though. They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away.”

“That’s not an invasion.”

“I think that’s unfair.” (responding to a Presidential accusation that Mr. Acosta is a terrible person)

“You repeatedly said – Mr. President, you repeatedly – over the course of the (inaudible) called the enemy of the people (inaudible) campaign (inaudible) and sent pipe bombs. That’s just (inaudible).” 

Mr. Acosta also asked the following questions:

“Why did you characterize it (the caravan) as such (an invasion)?”

“But do you think that you demonized immigrants [sic] in this election?”

“I may ask on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have indictments”?

“Mr.President, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation?”

After his first seven statements and first two questions, Mr. Acosta then ignored repeated direction from the President to sit down and let another reporter take his turn. It is apparent that Mr. Acosta was not interested in what the President had to say. He was really interested in hijacking the President’s press conference for the purpose of spouting his own opinions.

Remember now, that this was the President’s press conference. So it should not be thought out of line for the President to decide how many questions he should answer or who should be selected to ask questions. But Mr. Acosta acted as if it was his press conference, stating his own opinions more than asking questions, and refusing to follow directions from the President. In doing so, he clearly demonstrated his utter disdain and disrespect for the President.

And that brings us to a second important point. The President is owed respect from the press corp because of the office he holds. This man is the elected leader, the representative, of approximately 330 million people. If the President is directly disrespected like this, both the citizens he represents and the foundational principles by which he was elected are also disrespected. The press did not seem to have any problem understanding this concept during press conferences with President Obama.

But even more important than the respect issue is a third point – the truth issue. When the press acts in its capacity to deliver journalism, then its legitimacy is derived from its credibility. When the press reports something as “news,” there is an implication that this news is factual. It is not merely an opinion, it is truth. In the case of Mr. Acosta at the Presidential press conference, he was not delivering facts. He was stating his own opinions to a much greater extent than he was asking questions. And the bottom line is that in this forum, it simply does not matter what Mr. Acosta thinks. Mr. Acosta was not elected to office. He does not officially represent anyone. When acting in his role as a journalist, his opinions are irrelevant.

This is important because Mr. Acosta is not unique. He faithfully represents the attitude and disposition of most of the media. So think about that. We now have in the United States a media which disrespects and undermines the duly elected President of the Republic, and which fails to clearly distinguish between fact and opinion in its “reporting” on that President. By demeaning the office of the President, the media also erodes the constitutional processes by which he was elected. This unelected press, which is indeed a powerful force, can no longer be counted on to provide the citizens with the truth, because it is so inflamed with animus for the President. It is really a doubly dangerous situation. First, we have lost a powerful force for helping us to understand the truth. Second, we are now being propagandized by that same powerful force seeking to advance the cause of progressivism by any means at its disposal. Objectivity in the media is a thing of the past.

This is indeed a threatening prospect. No wonder the President calls the mainstream media the enemy of the people. Because it is exactly that.

References

1. Sullivan, Meg. ” Media bias is real, finds UCLA political scientist.” UCLA Newsroom. December 14, 2005.

2. Harper, Jennifer. “Numbers don’t lie: Media bias against Trump is entrenched, vicious, persistent.” Washington Times. June 29, 2017.

3. Stix, Nicholas. “Complete Transcript of President Jim Acosta’s White House Press Conference Today! Re-posted by Nicholas Stix.” Nicholas Stix, Uncensored. November 8, 2018.