Thursday, November 8, 2018

Acosta Not the Hill Press Should Die On

Acosta Not the Hill Press Should Die On
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 8, 2018

As a working newspaper reporter, I was, and am still, an American first and a member of the Fourth Estate second. I am of the belief that news reporters should do just that - report the news and not inject themselves into the news. When a source says something is off the record, it stays off the record. Issues of national security should be protected and not reported, especially where troop movements and people’s lives are at stake.

Being a member of the White House Press Corps is a privilege, not a right. In modern times, never has a president been so disrespected as President Donald Trump is right now. A president is not required to meet with the press, field press questions, or even acknowledge the media. It is, however, the right thing to do.

Certainly previous presidents have had challenging relationships with the media. Ronald Reagan and Sam Donaldson would verbally spar from time to time. 

Richard Nixon told the media after losing the California governor’s race in 1962 “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore…” 

And Harry Truman wrote a scathing letter to Paul Hume, taking issue with Hume’s poor review of Truman’s daughter Margaret’s singing. In the 1950 letter, Truman wrote, “Some day [sic] I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

Jim Acosta, Chief White House correspondent for CNN, on more than one occasion has been brazenly disrespectful to President Trump and more than just a little truculent in his behavior. After asking several questions during Trump’s press briefing on Wednesday, November 7, following the midterm election, Acosta was told to surrender the microphone in order for the next reporter to ask his or her question. In refusing to do so, the intern attempted to take the mic and Acosta again refused to yield. Later that day, Acosta’s White House press credentials were stripped and his hard pass revoked for an indefinite period.

Acosta is a pedantic, miserable, self-aggrandizing, blowhole. He frequently attempts to insert himself into his reporting with his impolite manner and is often scolded either by Trump or White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and rightfully so.

There are times when the press briefings sound like the Wild West because of the lack of decorum and respect, either to Trump or to Sanders. Pulling Acosta’s credentials should be a message to the press corps that disrespectful behavior is not going to be tolerated. To be fair, I am not suggesting the press behave like the fawning obsequious weasels they were during the Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy administrations. There is most definitely a happy medium.

For the press community and the White House Correspondents’ Association to react apoplectically to the Acosta suspension is, while not surprising, more than just a little over the top. CNN’s response was particularly melodramatic. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”

“Threat to our democracy?” The White House press room will not go dark due to Acosta’s absence. Not only is he not the only member of the White House press corps, he is not even the only reporter at CNN. Jim Acosta is not the hill on which the press should go to die. CNN, as an active member of the  White House press pool will not leave Acosta’s seat unfilled in some memorial cloak of martyrdom. Instead, while they will moan and groan, they will also insert another reporter to no doubt do a better job as both a reporter and a human being.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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