Even for CNN, this spinning is out of control.
In the wake of Jim Acosta, the star Washington correspondent for the network President Donald Trump likes to call “very fake news,” getting his White House press privileges revoked, CNN has gone into overdrive to accuse the Trump White House of lying about the news conference scuffle that made national news.
But as usual, the Trump administration is fighting back.
In a Twitter post published late Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated the administration’s position that Acosta deserved to be banned from the White House for a physical struggle over a microphone with a woman Sanders described as an “intern.” And a video included in the tweet helps explain why.
We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. pic.twitter.com/T8X1Ng912y
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration,” an earlier Sanders tweet stated. “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.”
That probably sounds reasonable to most people.
But that isn’t stopping mainstream media outlets and Washington reporters from claiming the White House is being deceitful with the video in Sanders’ tweet, a story in The Hill stressed.
“But dozens of social media users, including several reporters and political analysts, said that the video Sanders shared zooms in on the moment of contact, and appears to have been sped up to make the moment appear more aggressive,” The Hill reported.
The problem with that argument – and we can expect to hear more of it – is that most Americans who saw the actual scuffle or news reports about it understand that the video Sanders posted had been edited.
Of course it had, just like a million other images viewers are exposed to on a regular basis, from “Dancing with the Stars” to NFL touchdown reviews.
Most Americans, in other words, understand how television works. It doesn’t change the essential facts.
Nonetheless, CNN issued a statement declaring unequivocally that Sanders “lied” about the event.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018
Really? Watch this “edited” video and decide for yourself if Sanders and the White House have banned Acosta in response to his questioning, or to his refusal to obey the basic rules of courtesy and professionalism in a news conference setting.
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) November 7, 2018
In an interview Wednesday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper gave Acosta a chance to tell his side of the story. And naturally, Acosta cast himself as blameless in the whole affair.
“I was just trying to ask a question of the president at the press conference,” Acosta told Cooper. “And it was obviously a question they didn’t like, and it was about his racist ad on the caravan that they were running before the midterms.
“He and I were going back and forth there and as you can see in this video, this intern came up to me … and attempted to take the microphone away from me. All I can say at that point is I was trying to hang onto the microphone so I could continue to ask the president questions.
“Obviously, I didn’t put my hands on her or touch her as they’re alleging. It’s just unfortunate the White House is saying this.
“We all try to be professionals over there and I think I handled myself professionally.”
He thinks he handled himself professionally.
That statement on its face is ludicrous. If what Acosta did during that news conference didn’t qualify as “putting his hands on” a young woman – and it might not have – it certainly couldn’t be passed off as “professional” in any sense.
Acosta and his endless, badgering, showboating questions have been a national embarrassment since even before Trump took office. He hasn’t improved any with the time that’s passed.
CNN can spin try to it however the network wants. And the rest of the Washington’s incestuous media establishment can join in to defend Acosta if it hasn’t already disgraced itself enough.
But Acosta’s boot was long overdue. Let’s just hope it lasts.