Sam Donaldson, the veteran reporter and anchor for ABC News, should have resisted the urge to sully his own reputation by associating it with that of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta. We get that the “news guys” like to stick together and pretend that we’re in the middle of some unprecedented crackdown on the First Amendment, but let’s save that delusion for the country club, shall we? Let’s not embarrass ourselves by trumpeting it on the pages of CNN’s website.
Donaldson writes what is essentially an endorsement of Acosta’s new book, “Enemy of the People,” and we can only assume that CNN and/or Acosta slipped Donaldson a few bucks for the glowing review. In it, Donaldson essentially adopts Acosta’s viewpoint that he is an unfairly persecuted member of the free press. In actuality, he is a clown whose presence on the White House lawn is a stain on the press and a black mark on our democracy. He’s deserved every bit of the treatment he’s gotten from President Trump, and then some. To cast himself as a free speech martyr is nothing short of hilarious. But then, being funny is what a clown does.
“When Jim Acosta tried to ask President Trump perfectly reasonable and appropriate questions at a televised news conference last November, he was called ‘a rude, terrible person’ by Mr. Trump, who said CNN should be ashamed for employing him,” writes Donaldson. “And no president before in history, as far as we can ascertain, ever attempted to ‘lift’ a reporter’s White House pass because he didn’t like the reporter’s questions.”
So, first of all, let’s address Donaldson’s first claim, which is that Acosta’s questions at that press conference were “reasonable and appropriate.”
“You said during the midterms, Mr. President—” Acosta began.
“Here we go,” Trump said, already sensing Acosta’s predilection for using his time as a platform to pontificate.
“You said that this caravan was an invasion,” Acosta continued.
“I consider it to be an invasion,” confirmed Trump.
“As you know, Mr. President, this caravan was not an invasion,” Acosta said. “It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.”
“Thank you for telling me that,” said Trump, his patience wearing thin.
“Why did you characterize it as such?” Acosta asked.
“Because I can call it an invasion, you and I have a difference of opinion,” said the president.
“But do you think that you demonize immigrants—”
“Absolutely not,” said Trump, explaining that migrants need to come to this country in a legal fashion.
Now, already at this point, Acosta is out of line. He’s not asking newsworthy questions. He is using his time with the microphone to act as a political pundit. It is not a question of fact whether or not caravan migrants constitute an “invasion.” If you want them here, obviously they don’t. If you don’t, then you very well could call it that. Maybe you can ask Trump why he calls these caravans an invasion, but you can’t say, “It’s not an invasion,” and then lecture the president about the kind, caring nature of the Central American migrant.
But all of this is beside the point. Trump tried to move on to the next questioner, at which time a White House staffer attempted to take Acosta’s microphone away. Instead of relinquishing it, he tried to get in another question about the phony Russian collusion investigation. That moment was where Acosta lost his precious press pass. It was not about freedom of the press, it was about one fool who doesn’t know how to behave in a press conference.
“Jim Acosta and the other hardworking men and women who cover the White House will continue the effort to do their job. And the news organizations who send them there will continue to back them up.
I salute them and am proud to stand with them,” Donaldson concludes.
Sorry, but there’s nothing admirable about using your position as a White House reporter to go on a crusade for the #Resistance every time you get called on. Acosta has acted like a cartoon character for two and a half years now, and if he now stands as the representative for the free press, then it speaks volumes about where the news business is headed.