Remember during the heyday of the Daily Show, when reporters would anonymously carp at the supposed freedom Jon Stewart had to call bullshit on bullshit? The stifled contemptuous jealousy with which they talked about him and his team? “Oh, he’s a comedian, not a journalist, and he’s on a cable network, not at an august publication run by someone with a numeral after his name, so he can question authority and we can’t, woe is helpless little us.”
Acosta’s remarks aren’t just blunt; they’re unusual. Reporters are supposed to report, not opine. Yet Acosta’s disdain has flowed openly, raising a question about how far a reporter — supposedly a neutral arbiter of facts, not a commenter on them — can and should go.
Really? It raises a question? All by itself? Nobody raised that question? Nobody who wants to be named, anyway? That’s okay, just put the question in the headline and pretend it came from God himself. No worries.
A curious sidelight to all this has been the relatively tepid support Acosta has received from his fellow White House journalists. Only a few have publicly spoken out in support of him. There have been no walkouts or calls for boycotting the briefings (although Acosta has suggested “collective action” to get the cameras back). The White House Correspondents’ Association has confined its agitation to behind-the-scenes negotiations with Spicer and several short, general statements.
So Acosta put himself out there, calling bullshit when he smelled it, and nobody else in the cowardly White House press corps jumped to his defense, so that automatically makes … Acosta questionable? HOW? What the hell kind of morally bankrupt construction is this? Is someone only right about stuff when everybody validates their point of view? Is he only correct if more than six other reporters back him up? Is that how you determine who’s on the side of the angels and who’s going to hell?
I’m really confused about this, Paul Farhi, because I’m old enough to have gone to journalism school and been taught about a trade that specialized in holding power to account. Nobody mentioned a popularity contest among our peers, and let’s be honest, most reporters fucking hate each other anyway. The good ones always have half a dozen enemies in the business.
Jim Acosta is not proven right or wrong by counting how many of his colleagues like his tone of voice. Even if he was, if you read the entire story, Farhi doesn’t even quote anyone who’s all that mad at Acosta. Farhi quotes Spicer, who of course is going to shit-talk Acosta, and he quotes Fox:
In fact, the pushback against Acosta from some quarters of the media has been more striking. On a recent Fox News segment, for example, former Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry said Acosta’s on-air commentary had “crossed the line” into opinion.
Henry then burst into flames, as is customary when irony flips the switch on the XM42.
How exactly is it striking, Farhi, that a Trump-friendly network thinks bullshit-opposing journalists are just de trop? Wouldn’t you expect Fox to say that anyone not actively licking the president’s boots must be some kind of communist traitor somehow? Isn’t that what they’ve spent the past two Republican administrations saying? Is this NEW for them somehow?
This is my favorite part of the story, though. It’s the SECOND TO LAST PARAGRAPH WHICH DISPROVES THE LEAD.
In fact, Acosta didn’t go easy on Trump and Spicer’s predecessors; his questioning of Obama press secretary Josh Earnest and Obama himself was often highlighted in conservative media accounts and in Republican National Committee emails. During the IRS scandal, for instance, he asked Earnest whether the White House’s claim that it had lost important emails was like saying “the dog ate my homework.” He also pressed Obama on his characterization of the Islamic State as “the J.V. team” and the president’s contention that he hadn’t underestimated the terror organization. “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” Acosta asked.
So … the entire premise of your story is bullshit, then? Acosta has said nothing provably false or even all that inflammatory, Acosta’s boss is really happy with his work, Acosta’s main critics are administration officials and one Fox jackass, so … why didn’t you spike this piece of shit? Why is it out there with a vague … this raises questions and shadows are swirling in the ether of nothingness in which disembodied observers might opine that we can’t ever know the truth?
What’s the good of keeping democracy from dying in darkness if you’re just going to drown it in stupidity?