Really Acosta? Really Trump?
By Alex Zoellner ‘19
On November 7th, 2018 President Trump held a press conference about the midterms. Naturally, attending the press conference was CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. As expected, Acosta lead with a tough but very legitimate question. That question being; why did you label the caravan as an invasion and do you believe that you demonized immigrants in this election? Trump’s response, interrupting Acosta, was that it was simply a difference of opinion and that if those within the caravan wanted to enter into the U.S, they would need to come in legally.
Trump’s response was swiftly followed by Acosta refusing to reliquensh the microphone and badgering Trump with further questioning. When a female intern attempted to take the mic from Acosta he refused, but never laid his hands on the intern. Just a few hours later Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the announcement that Acosta’s media hard pass would be revoked “until further notice.” As such, when Acosta attempted to enter the White House on Thursday, he was denied access, leading to both a comment and video being posted on Twitter.
Acosta’s tweet was soon succeeded by Sarah Sanders posting a doctored video of Acosta’s interaction with the intern on Twitter. This was done in an attempt to claim justification for the White House’s actions. The claim the administration made was that it “will never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young intern.”
Let me start off by saying that no key players in this debacle are innocent, not Trump, and not Acosta. Acosta has a very extensive and contentious background with Trump. In a democracy and a land with freedom of the press, as many political positions as possible should be heard via media.
To this point, Acosta has just been doing his job, garnering praise from many of his peers. But, that doesn’t mean that you can abandon professionalism. To that end, the way in which he took up everyone else’s time and carried himself was distinctly unprofessional. However, it was by no means illegal and was absolutely within the confines of the First Amendment. Badgering someone with tough questions is a part of journalism.
Sometimes, one must play a little rough in the pursuit of journalism. That’s just how it is. The President, however, has very little to no say as to whom is allowed to interview him, what questions they ask, or how many questions they ask. Sometimes, you just gotta suck it up and answer some questions. That is professionalism. And Trump most certainly didn’t do that.
It is equally as unprofessional to call someone a “terrible person” on the stand during a presidential press conference as to not relenquish the microphone, at said press conference. That is not how a professional acts, and that is especially not how the President should act. Furthermore, no one can suspend a press pass without a legitamete cause for doing so. If you could do that, then you would be opening the door for interviewees to choose their interviewers. That doesn’t sound like a free press to me.
That is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. To make matters worse, the video of Acosta’s interaction with the intern, posted on Twitter by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is clearly doctored. Infowars — which is where the doctored video originates — clearly altered the speed of Acosta’s arm and added special effects like zooming in. This, of course, has been confirmed by multiple video analysts such as Tom Albright — the research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University — and Shane Raymond of Storyful — a social-media intelligence firm that verifies media content. In addition, witnesses within the room — and most people who have seen the video — have attested to the falsehood of Sarah Sander’s claims that Acosta laid his hands on the female intern.
Ultimately, while Acosta was impeccably unprofessional, he was doing his job.
Trump blatantly violated the first amendment and his administration blatantly lied.
Everyone is guilty of something.