Proving yet again that President Trump and the media need each other in the way that the Joker needs Batman, an altercation between CNN’s Jim Acosta and a White House aide during the president’s press conference Wednesday produced a series of absurdities, each more shameful than the one before it.
First, Trump berated Acosta for daring to question the president’s characterization of the migrant caravan as an invasion. “”I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN,” said Trump. “And if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”
Next, Acosta attempted to ask another question and refused to yield the microphone, even when his turn was up and a young woman—described by some media outlets as a White House aide or intern—tried to take it back. Acosta rudely rebuffed the poor woman, moving the mic away from her as if they were playing high stakes keep-away. Reporters should challenge the powerful, but the picture of an older male reporter making a younger female staffer uncomfortable wasn’t pretty, especially when Acosta’s only purpose was to showboat for the cameras.
The White House upped the ante significantly. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands” on the intern. You can watch the video for yourself: It’s clear that nothing of the sort happened. Acosta might have embarrassed the poor woman, but he didn’t assault her.
The end result: The White House decided to revoke Acosta’s press clearance. CNN is standing by its reporter, and accused Sanders of making “fraudulent accusations.”
“This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better,” said CNN in a statement.
Whether or not that’s true, Sanders’ description of Acosta’s actions was inaccurate, and thus a false accusation. It was very wrong to make such a claim. The White House ought to be more careful, and the administration certainly shouldn’t banish reporters for being critical. Give Acosta back his credential—and a warning not to hog the mic—and let’s move on to the next Trump vs. the media outrage. God knows both sides love it. As the Joker put it in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight: “I don’t wanna kill you. What would I do without you?”