An extensive profile on Jim Acosta is suggesting that President Trump‘s team relishes their fights with the CNN reporter more than they let on, and it has been a cause of concern for some people in the network.
Over the last several months, Acosta’s profile has grown significantly due to his tough reporting on the Trump Administration and his numerous heated battles with their spokespeople. Acosta’s actions have earned him as much applause from Trump/media critics as it has disdain from those who consider him a partisan journalist who actively seeks out confrontation.
Politico did a profile piece on the White House correspondent, and they noted that some people at CNN are not comfortable with how personal and opinionated his reporting has been at times:
From CNN’s vantage point, Acosta is standing up to a bully—both for a network that has been under attack by Trump and those who feel disenfranchised in the president’s America. But there is also a view inside the network’s newsroom that Acosta has been given the latitude, perhaps even the implicit assignment, to turn the briefing room into a personal editorial page because it is good television and reaffirms CNN’s integral role in the ongoing drama. “There’s some grumbling in the rank-and-file that this isn’t straight news,” said a senior person in the network’s newsroom. “But the higher up you go, the more people like what Jim’s doing or he wouldn’t be doing it.”
The piece also took note of how CNN chief Jeff Zucker reacted when Acosta had that rousing face-off with Stephen Miller over the president’s immigration policies.
Acosta told me that as soon as soon as Miller dropped his “cosmopolitan bias” line he knew the exchange would be news and that “CNN would be instantly overjoyed.” Indeed, Acosta was plastered all over the network and its website afterward. When I asked Acosta to explain what he meant by overjoyed, Richard Hudock, a public relations manager eating with us, interjected: “That was sarcasm.” “That was sarcasm,” Acosta quickly agreed, adding, “My thought was this was going to cause an uproar.”
Zucker told me he didn’t acknowledge feeling “overjoyed” by Acosta’s dust-up with Miller, but he clearly wasn’t bothered by it, either.
Zucker did, however, later go on to say that Acosta’s reporting is “100 percent” straight news.
The profile also considered the indications that Acosta has become an ideal political archenemy for Trumpworld. Politico specifically points to the Miller dustup and other moments where Trump defenders viewed Acosta’s journalism as politically-motivated and an embodiment of everything their side hates about media people.
One anecdote points out that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon couldn’t have been more pleased with how things went in Miller-Acosta fight:
“You can just see Trump and Steve Bannon reveling in watching Jim snap back to Miller,” said Jim Warren, the Poynter Institute’s chief media critic and a former White House reporter for the New York Daily News. “And you can bet Jeff Zucker did, too.” For the record, I asked Bannon whether Acosta was playing into the administration’s hands, he texted one word: “Yes!!!!!!!”
Politico also revisited the transcript from Miller’s briefing, and they noticed an aside comment he murmured, possibly as a joke to himself.
Another clue to the administration’s attitude can be mined from the official transcript the day Miller and Acosta went at it. As Miller finished up at the podium, he said, “I think that was exactly what we were hoping to have happen.” Asked about Miller’s line, Acosta said he had not heard it, but that he wasn’t surprised.
Previous reports have documented that Miller was considered for a promotion after the rowdy exchange.
Acosta acknowledged those who have disagreed with his style of reporting, but he expressed that its necessary for confronting the various falsehoods and controversial elements perpetuated by the Administration.
“When he calls us the enemy of the people, we say nothing? When he calls us fake news, we don’t point out that he used to say Obama wasn’t born in this country? Do we not do those things? I think that’s a cop-out, I think that’s raising the white flag and saying we’re not going to do our job anymore.”
The profile also takes time to recognize how various political observers and media professionals are heartened that Acosta does so much to hold the White House accountable. Former ABC reporter Sam Donaldson seemed to think Acosta has done well, given the current anti-media climate.
“Nobody I was asking questions of lied to my face,” said Donaldson. “Nobody was trying to tell the American people the press was their enemy.”
Brian Karem, who had his own heated confrontation with the Trump Administration, has also lauded Acosta’s determined focus on important questions.
“Jim cut to the heart of what’s at stake today because he’s a good reporter…The very fact we’re having this conversation: Has Jim crossed a line? Is he part of the story?—is exactly what the administration wants. We’re famous in our business for eating our own. If someone stands up, how long before we question their motives? The truth is, more of us should be doing what Jim’s doing.”
[Image via screengrab]
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