We can all agree that the video of Jim Acosta was doctored to make it look like he struck a woman. It was a clumsy and stupid move by InfoWars, but we’re used to clumsy and stupid from that source. What I want to know is why journalists continue this farcical White House press conference rigamarole? It’s a mob of suits begging for attention from a guy who loves attention, and who especially loves to lord it over the room. It’s nothing to the news networks but an opportunity for drama and mutual reinforcement of each others’ self-importance.
And now what is completely ignored is the question Acosta was asking. Trumpistanis are only going to talk about how rude Acosta was, the media are only going to talk about how imperious and arrogant Trump was, and the Q&A is totally sidelined. Just for the record, here’s the exchange leading up to the notorious microphone-snatch:
“I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements you made in the tail end of the campaign, that this caravan was an invasion…”
I considered it 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 US…”
Thank you for telling me that.
“Why did you characterize it as such…”
Because I considered it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.
“Do you think that you demonized immigrants…”
No, no, not at all. I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally. You know they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process, and I want people to come in, and we need the people.
Wait, wait, you know why we need the people. Because we have hundreds of companies moving in. We need people.
“But your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls…”
“But they aren’t going to be doing…”
They weren’t actors. They weren’t actors. Did you think they came from Hollywood? These were people…this actually happened a few days ago.
“They’re hundreds of miles away, though. They’re hundreds of miles…that’s not an invasion.”
Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much higher.
And then begins the wild rumpus with an intern trying to take the mic from his hands.
Could we please talk about that conversation? The president of the US simultaneously accuses Central American people of staging an invasion and declares that he’s going to welcome these people as workers, completely avoids the point that they’re nowhere near the border, and tries to pretend that a racist campaign ad was a factual and representative observation of real people.
By hectoring Acosta, he completely short-circuited any news about his inconsistency, his dishonesty, and his demagoguery. As an exercise in lying to a camera, it was brilliant. As an opportunity to gather information, it was a waste, because all those “journalists” aren’t going to call him out in the press, because they want this pretense of access.
I’ve read a few opinion pieces that suggest the principled thing for the press corps to do would be to boycott the whole charade. They won’t. Because a) they aren’t principled, or they wouldn’t be patiently waiting for a source to bless them with knowledge, and b) the whole point of the charade is to dance with the Orange Bully in front of your peers, not to actually learn anything and disseminate it to the public.
Trump knows exactly how to deal with fawning courtiers, which is all those “journalists” are.