CNN’s Jim Acosta is playing right into Trump’s hands by whining that Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders won’t call on him during White House briefings.
Acosta has shouted questions out of turn, complained on camera and all but stomped his feet as the White House has banned cameras from the briefing room on several occasions and subsequently stopped calling on him. It’s been irresistible fodder for right-wing agitators like Rush Limbaugh, eager to further demonize mainstream media. Sadly, those critics are right.
Of course, what Trump’s communications team is doing should be condemned; they are deliberately undermining the traditions of interacting with the press in hopes we will go away or talk about something other than Russia.
Acosta has suggested reporters walk out in protest, whining about his treatment and suggesting fellow reporters should band together and have his back.
Sorry, Jim, but a little perspective here. You have a front-row seat in the briefing room and always will. Some of your colleagues in that room don’t even have a chair. When was the last time you took a stand for one of them?
When George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, the Washington Blade’s White House credentials were revoked and we were kicked out of the briefing room. Did CNN — or anyone else — rush to our defense? Of course not.
Instead of whining about it, we regrouped and found other ways to cover a hostile administration, namely by cultivating sources outside the official spokespeople who wouldn’t talk to us. It’s something the Washington Post and New York Times are doing with gusto, battling to the death to see which publication can take down this administration. Acosta would be wise to follow that lead rather than sit back waiting for Spicer to talk again.
No one said journalism would be fun or easy. No one owes Acosta a scoop or newsworthy tidbit of information wrapped in a bow and served on a silver tray. The briefings are too important to boycott and such action would backfire, with even fewer opportunities to get on-the-record statements from officials.
Welcome to our world, Jim. A briefing room in which you spend hours — in the Blade’s case, years! — waiting to be called on by hostile spokespeople. Pull up your big-boy britches and get to the work of journalism. Show up every day. Refuse to go away. Defy and outlast your tormentors. If you need advice on how to do that, give me a call.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].