Acosta in­ci­dent an as­sault on truth

The re­porter was out of line. The pres­i­dent doesn’t even seem to know there is a line.

The Times-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS KELLY CHRIS KELLY, the Times-tri­bune colum­nist, has been called a “rude, ter­ri­ble per­son” a time or two. Con­tact the writer: kellysworld@timessham­rock.com, @cjkink on Twit­ter. Read his award­win­ning blog at blogs.thetimestri­bune.com/kelly.

The White House could have booted CNN re­porter Jim Acosta for es­ca­lat­ing a heated ex­change with the pres­i­dent. In­stead, his cre­den­tials were pulled be­cause of some­thing he didn’t do — and a doc­tored video of the in­ci­dent made its way onto a Lack­awanna County com­mis­sioner’s Face­book page. Kelly’s World,

“The party told you to re­ject the ev­i­dence of your eyes and ears. It was their fi­nal, most es­sen­tial com­mand.” — From “1984,” by Ge­orge Or­well (1903-1950)

Jim Acosta had it coming. Told to surrender the mi­cro­phone dur­ing a Wed­nes­day press con­fer­ence at the White House, the CNN re­porter kept bark­ing ques­tions un­til Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump di­rected an in­tern to shut him up.

Acosta’s ques­tions were fair and de­served an­swers, but he es­ca­lated the heated ex­change with the pres­i­dent by re­fus­ing to yield the floor. He made him­self the news of the day, a dis­trac­tion the ad­min­is­tra­tion was happy to em­brace af­ter a tough elec­tion night for Trump.

The White House could have rea­son­ably pulled Acosta’s cre­den­tials for flaunt­ing the rules of the room. In­stead, he was booted for some­thing he didn’t do.

When the fe­male in­tern reached for the mi­cro­phone, Acosta raised his left arm in her di­rec­tion and leaned away. Their arms met, which the White House laugh­ably de­scribed as an as­sault.

“Pres­i­dent Trump be­lieves in a free press and ex­pects and wel­comes tough ques­tions of him and his Ad­min­is­tra­tion,” spokes­woman Sarah San­ders tweeted. “We will, how­ever, never tol­er­ate a re­porter plac­ing his hands on a young woman just try­ing to do her job as a White House in­tern.”

Dou­bling down on Thurs­day, San­ders tweeted video of the in­ci­dent, which ap­peared to show Acosta vi­ciously “karate-chop­ping” the in­tern. It went vi­ral on con­tact, as does most fake news spread on so­cial me­dia.

Lack­awanna County Com­mis­sioner Lau­reen Cum­mings — a tea party Repub­li­can and pro­fes­sional mar­tyr — shared the video on Face­book:

“Jim Acosta ac­tu­ally karate chopped this girls arm while she tried to get the mic off of him for the sec­ond time .... what a scum­bag,” Cum­mings wrote.

No, he didn’t. It took min­utes to see the video was doc­tored, sped up to give the false im­pres­sion that Acosta struck the in­tern. The White House got the video from In­fowars, the con­spir­acy the­ory clear­ing­house run by Alex Jones, the alt-right uber-kook who said the Sandy Hook shoot­ings never hap­pened, that tap water is laced with chem­i­cals that turn frogs gay and that Hil­lary Clin­ton is “one of the most vi­cious se­rial killers the planet’s ever seen.”

I’m not mak­ing any of that up. Jones, on the other hand, makes up ev­ery­thing he says. Yet the White House — al­ways howl­ing about CNN be­ing “fake news” — used an ob­vi­ously doc­tored video as ev­i­dence of an as­sault by a CNN re­porter that never hap­pened.

The irony is com­pounded by the wail­ing that Trump and his en­ablers did dur­ing the Ka­vanaugh Supreme Court hear­ings. The no­tion that un­doc­u­mented claims of as­sault could ruin an “in­no­cent” man’s life and ca­reer was a hor­ror no good Amer­i­can could sup­port. Ev­ery man and boy in the coun­try was at risk of be­ing “falsely ac­cused.”

What a dif­fer­ence a midterm makes. Stung by the Democrats’ re­tak­ing the House, Trump walked into the room spoil­ing for a fight, an­other dis­trac­tion the press would chase down a rab­bit hole as the real news was ob­scured. Acosta obliged, played by a mas­ter ma­nip­u­la­tor. I crossed a sim­i­lar line years ago in an ed­i­to­rial board meet­ing with a county com­mis­sioner. Not a mem­ber of the board, I was in­vited as a guest.

The rest is his­tory, and I al­most was, too.

The com­mis­sioner even­tu­ally went to pri­son. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the meet­ing, my em­ploy­ers in­formed me that start­ing shout­ing matches with news­mak­ers was not only un­ac­cept­able, but a ca­reer choice.

I got the mes­sage. Acosta is a skilled re­porter, but his pen­chant for grand­stand­ing should have been reined in by CNN brass long be­fore Wed­nes­day.

The pres­i­dent re­fuses to be reined in by any­one or any­thing. Trump’s hissy fit over Acosta’s per­sis­tence re­vealed his true self — a cry­baby bully who doesn’t think he has to an­swer to any­one.

“CNN should be ashamed of it­self hav­ing you work­ing for them,” Trump sniffed. “You are a rude, ter­ri­ble per­son.”

Takes one to know one. Acosta may be his own worst en­emy, but do­ing his job does not make him an “en­emy of the peo­ple.” When the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion tried to ban Fox “News” from White House press con­fer­ences, Acosta and CNN ral­lied the press to de­mand Fox re­porters’ re­in­state­ment.

Acosta be­haved badly at the press con­fer­ence, but he didn’t as­sault any­one or any­thing but Trump’s frag­ile feel­ings. Trump and the White House as­saulted the truth with a doc­tored video lifted from one of the world’s premier sources of ac­tual fake news.

Trump’s base should be ashamed to have him work­ing for them.

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