Apparently, removing someone’s press credentials because they refuse to hand over the microphone at a press conference, engage in a rhetorical filibuster where questions are completely absent and then physically accost a female intern (however gentle you may believe that accosting may have been) is now suddenly a harbinger of the end of the free press.
Way to go, Jim Acosta.
Yes, the CNN White House correspondent (or former correspondent, depending on how quickly you think those credentials are going to be reinstated) is the talk of the town, which is usually how he likes it. If you don’t believe me, take the hand-wringing on CBS over the whole incident, captured by the folks at Newsbusters.
On the Thursday edition of “CBS This Morning,” co-host Norah O’Donnell said, regarding the suspension, that “the freedom of the press is under assault. It happened yesterday at the White House.”
Talking about Acosta’s press credentials getting taken away, she asked CBS’ Major Garrett, “Is that unprecedented?”
Garrett took a dim view of the White House’s explanation that Acosta’s decision to physically lay hands on the intern who was taking the microphone away — doing her job, in other words — had something to do with the press pass being revoked.
“It doesn’t look like that at all. That looks a pretext for an action that the White House possibly had on its mind for some period of time,” he said.
So was it unprecedented? “I have no memory of that (kind of thing happening before),” Garrett said.
That’s interesting, since in a 2017 interview with The Wrap, he talked about how the Obama administration would repeatedly demonize his former employer, Fox News.
“The Obama administration went on a two-month campaign to demonize and delegitimize the network I worked for,” he said.
And yet, he didn’t have too much of an issue with it.
“That goes back to the very first two administrations in our country and runs through to Abraham Lincoln. It runs through Teddy Roosevelt. It runs through FDR, it runs through everybody.”
In fact, the Obama White House made no secret of its desire to do roughly the same thing to Fox News.
“The Obama administration made a deliberate effort to exclude Fox News from a press pool during the height of its war with the network, newly released documents show,” Howard Kurtz reported for The Daily Beast back in 2011.
“On Oct. 22, 2009, Dag Vega, the White House director of broadcast media, wrote to a Treasury official that ‘we’d prefer if you skip Fox please.’ Deputy White House communications director Jennifer Psaki wrote the official, Jenni LeCompte, and other colleagues about a report by Fox anchor Bret Baier on the network’s exclusion that ‘brett baier just did a stupid piece on it — but he is a lunatic.’
“The next day, Psaki wrote: ‘I am putting some dead fish in the fox cubby – just cause.’ And deputy press secretary Josh Earnest wrote LeCompte that day: ‘We’ve demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews…'”
And this was an entire network we’re talking about here. It’s not just one reporter who refused to give up a microphone. CNN is apparently free to pick any one of their very talented journalists to take his place. Under Obama, they were trying to exclude Fox News in toto.
So, before we call what’s happening to Jim Acosta unprecedented, perhaps we ought to look at very recent history and realize this is very, very precedented.
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