Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintains dignity in face of Jim Acosta
The White House daily press briefing is now a casting couch, broadcast live on national television. This week when it comes to the subject of Jim Acosta and the enemy of the people, I side with Sanders.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that is, White House press secretary under President Trump who has an impossibly challenging job anyone who loves C.J. Cregg on West Wing can’t blame her for taking. You may not like Sanders’ daily message but faulting her for trying to maintain some semblance of dignity is not fair.
Acosta had attended a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday and was heckled by deplorable people who shall not be so-named because they are white.
To Wolf Blitzer Acosta said: “To give you a sense of what’s happening right now, you can hear there is a chorus of boos and other chants at this Trump crowd here in Tampa, Fla. They are saying things like ‘CNN sucks,’ ‘go home’ and ‘fake news,’ ” Acosta reported.
“Wolf, obviously all of those things are false,” Acosta reported.
Also this week in the news, let’s see – trade war, migrant kids separated and still missing, ballooning national debt, Apple hitting $1trillion in market value, oh, and Russians attempting to interfere with the upcoming elections.
On Thursday when the chief White House correspondent for CNN was called on for a question, Acosta “asked” this: “It would be a good thing if you were to state right here, at this briefing, that the press – the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier – are not the enemy of the people,” Mr. Acosta said in his earnest newscaster sex-kitten voice. “I think we deserve that,” he said.
He thinks we deserve that? Watching this made my eyes roll and wrist go limp. What a self-serving, useless question if the goal is to discover the truth.
“I” is the enemy of the people. Or to be clear, as too many people say now, too many people in cable news use press briefings and “news” to boost profits and increase the voltage of the limelight.
Instead of searching for truth, the mission of journalism, Acosta appears to be searching for the spotlight. Sanders’ deflected Acosta’s “question” including a mild jibe of her own:
“It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric, when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country.”
Does cable news frequently lower the level of conversation in this country? Sean Hannity makes people like me say swear words. Maybe she’s got a point.
Not satisfied with Sanders’ non-response to his non-question, Acosta then cut off and interrupted his fellow journalists to “follow up” with another pressing performance:
“This democracy, this country, all the people around the world watching what you are saying, Sarah, and the White House for the United States of America – the president of the United States should not refer to us as ‘the enemy of the people,'” he said. “His own daughter acknowledges that, and all I’m asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.”
Who in their right mind would bark out, “I acknowledge the press is not the enemy of the people” on command on national television? It’s like he was attempting some wacky baptism or spearheading a First Amendment cult. Would you advise your son or daughter to blurt out some affirmation every time some hotshot pretty boy says he’s speaking for everyone else and orders them to do so?
Acosta thinks we deserve Sanders’ to bark on his command but what we really deserve are people who don’t pretend to speak for others when they really are speaking for themselves, and for reporters to ask questions that are not rhetorical or ridiculous.
God help us if the First Amendment gives Acosta the right to insist the White House press secretary say that the press is not the enemy of the people, and the drama? Please.
Suffice it to say in this ridiculous back and forth Sanders did not budge and would not say it. She moved on.
There were others reporters in the room who had questions, too, but Acosta had no interest in their questions, apparently. He walked out – and then tweeted about it.
“Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn’t do it,” he wrote in a post that his Followers retweeted like lemmings. “Shameful,” he added.
How’s that for hard-hitting journalism? Is it any wonder Americans’ most trusted news comes from the BBC?
I get it. Acosta is concerned about angry mobs at rallies who hate the press and he blames Trump for their undeserved scorn. But instead of posting the videos of the mobs – which frankly seemed tame for anyone who has been to a state fair – and moralizing about it and presuming to speak for others he should do a better job at asking questions that have answers.
He should report on what the mob said and not how it made him feel.
As published in The Portland Press Herald