Roland Burton Hedley Jr. rides again!
I’m getting ahead of myself. Those of you who are younger, are not political humor geeks or who simply refused to read “Doonesbury” might not remember Hedley, an intrepid reporter and the strip’s fictional embodiment of everything wrong with modern mainstream journalism.
In one famous series of strips, Hedley — doing a piece on a “hedonistic” commune — took pictures of the group’s marijuana plant, which happened to be a lilac bush.
Hedley — who survives to this day, now parodying Fox News — was supposed to be a composite character of the superfluous blowhard in the 1970s network newsroom: shellacked hair, furrowed brow, supercilious attitude. A young Jim Acosta saw that and realized what he wanted to be.
The days of the Hedleys of the world have long passed, but there’s nothing like an anachronism. And thus, we give you Acosta, continuing to push “unverified intelligence” as if it’s been already confirmed during a question at a White House media briefing on Monday.
CNN’s chief White House correspondent was asking about the alleged Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan with a ton of loaded assumptions baked in.
If you don’t have full knowledge of what happened here, don’t worry. You know who else doesn’t? Jim Acosta.
That didn’t stop this Hedley-esque question:
Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany: “No one’s been tougher on Russia” than President Trump. pic.twitter.com/qdkSOKNUJT
— The Hill (@thehill) July 13, 2020
“Does the president or the administration plan to make it very clear to the Russian Federation that there should not be bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan?” Acosta said during the exchange.
The question was based on reports that Russia had placed bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan through intermediaries — although there is debate regarding who knew about the alleged bounties and what they knew.
“We make that clear each and every day to every country around the world that this president will always stand by our law enforcement,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “No one has been tougher on Russia. What you’re …”
“Not law enforcement. I’m talking about military soldiers,” Acosta said, cutting in. “U.S. forces overseas.”
“Yes, of course. That’s what I’m saying. Our U.S. forces,” McEnany said.
“Not just any country,” Acosta said. “The Russians. Will you tell the Kremlin and President Putin …”
“Each and every country,” McEnany replied. “But what you’re getting at …”
Acosta then finished his question: “… not to put bounties on the heads of American soldiers?”
“Of course. We tell each and every country that. But what you’re getting at is uncorroborated intelligence, and you’re treating it as if it were true. To this day, there are varying views on the Russian bounty intelligence — [Department of Defense], [National Security Council] and the [Office of Director of National Intelligence] all pointing that out,” McEnany responded.
“You know, I’m not going to answer a question based on unverified intelligence, but rest assured, every country in this world is put on notice that bounties on the heads of U.S. troops is unacceptable, and this president will stand for U.S. troops at home and abroad.”
Look — when even Colin Powell is suggesting that maybe the media had a “hysterical” reaction to the Russian bounty intelligence, according to Fox News, perhaps this isn’t a narrative where everyone is on the same page.
But that’s not going to stop Jim Acosta from pretending otherwise. This is his lilac bush, goshdarnit, and nobody’s going to tell him it’s not a marijuana plant.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.