Fox News’ MediaBuzz Gets the Jim Acosta vs Kellyanne Conway Battle Right and Wrong at the Same Time


On Sunday’s episode of FNC’s MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz covered the confrontation between CNN’s Jim Acosta and Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway ahead of last week’s Oval Office address by President Trump. The question at hand: whether Acosta deserved the smack from Conway for his question about honesty. Kurtz and his guests got the answer both right and wrong in just a few short minutes.

Kurt’z guests for the segment were Buck Sexton, host of “The Buck Sexton Show” and Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show.” Both are longtime political analysts and commentators, and notably, in Press’s case, with CNN, current home to Acosta.

Kurtz played the clip from the exchange, during which Kellyanne Conway called Acosta a “smart ass”, before going to the guests. Turning first to Buck Sexton, Kurtz prompted, “White House correspondent, not a commentator, saying ‘can you guarantee the president will tell the truth.'”

“Bravo to Kellyanne Conway,” Sexton said. “Let me just say that Jim Acosta plays a very important role right now in our media discourse, and that is, he makes it effectively impossible to continue the charade that you have certain networks, certain newspapers as objective, non-partisan news sources.”

“This is a joke,” he said. While noting that there are some good journalists at CNN, Sexton said that “from a broad editorial prospective, CNN exists to launder liberalism for its audience.”

Press disagreed, naturally. “First of all, let me just say, I do not work for CNN, I’m not here to defend CNN. But I am here to defend, I will, rather, defend Jim Acosta,” he began.

“I think it’s a legitimate question when you have a President, before the speech, who said Mexico is going to pay for the wall, four different presidents support the wall, which they don’t, thousands pour across the border every day, which they don’t, they arrest four thousand terrorists, which they didn’t,” Press said. “That was a legitimate question.”

Sexton objected at that point, saying in the cross-talk that it was “preemptive fact-checking”.

“You have to wait until someone lies before you say they’ve lied,” said Sexton, somewhat missing that Press was referring to things that Trump and the administration had already said before Acosta’s question.

The argument continued, and Sexton correctly noted that Acosta asks these open-ended, non-specific questions for the sake of his own fame. This is manifestly so, it is virtually Acosta’s entire shtick. Acosta’s questions are rarely anything other than rhetorical, meant only to serve as a commentary on Trump and not designed to get any actual answer to anything.

But Bill Press is right that the defense “no one has lied yet” is silly on its face. Trump has lied thousands upon thousands of times. It’s not preemptively saying “Trump will lie later tonight” if you ask “will Trump lie later tonight?” Acosta’s question was incredibly douchey and of no real value, of course. It wasn’t a real or specific question, it was just his latest bid for viral adoration from the left. But it wasn’t “preemptive”.

Will the President repeat Sarah Sanders’ claims about terror suspects detained at the border? That would be a real reporter‘s question. Acosta smugly repeating “will the President tell the truth” over and over (after Conway had already answered yes, by the way) is not a real question. It’s a performance.

Press pressed, characterizing Acosta’s prior press briefing performances as simply tough questioning. Reporters do ask tough questions. They ask questions that put the administration on the spot or force them to reveal something. That could not be more different from Acosta asking “how can you be America First while rubbing elbows with all these bigwigs” at a world economic conference. That’s a thing he actually did in real life on purpose.

Both guests on MediaBuzz said things that were correct, and that were incorrect. Sexton is right about who and what Acosta is, as noted above. Press is right that asking whether Trump will repeat (specific) lies about the border when he addresses the nation is not “preemptive” fact-checking, because the claims had already been made before Conway and Acosta even saw each other that morning.

It was an oddly concluded segment (with a very amusing chyron). I thought Kurtz should have brought clarity to the assertions from the two partisans, but he did not, instead moving to the next topic.

Watch the clip above, courtesy of Fox News Channel.

[Featured image via screengrab]

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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Caleb Howe is an editor and writer focusing on politics and media. Former managing editor at RedState. Published at USA Today, Blaze, National Review, Daily Wire, American Spectator, AOL News, Asylum, fortune cookies, manifestos, napkins, fridge drawings...