CNN’s Jim Acosta Calls Out Trump’s Claim Anti-Lockdown Protestors Are Social Distancing: ‘Absolutely Just Gaslighting’


CNN’s Jim Acosta called out President Donald Trump for falsely implying that people gathering at anti-lockdown protests in different cities around the country are practicing social distancing: “Absolutely just gaslighting.”

Acosta, speaking with anchor Wolf Blitzer, was correcting the president’s comments at the White House’s Tuesday coronavirus task force briefing. The relatively small protests that have occurred at state capitols and elsehwhere have agitated for their states to swiftly reopen for business, despite the ongoing increase in cases in deaths in many of those same states. At many of these gatherings, there is little evidence participants are following social distancing rules and instead there are numerous examples of protestors engaging in risky behavior, including distributing candy to children bare-handed.

Trump has notably refused to criticize the protestors — which feature overwhelmingly pro-Trump sentiment — and, as he did on Tuesday, tried to excuse their behavior by saying they’re merely exercising their First Amendment rights within the public health constraints put in place to stope the spread of Covid-19.

“I’ve watched some of the protests on television,” Trump had said earlier, in response to a reporter’s question. “They’re separated. There is space in between them. They’re doing social distancing.”

CNN’s Gloria Borger pointed out to Blitzer and Acosta that is demonstrably not true. “I don’t know what pictures he’s looking at, but a lot the video we’ve looked at shows that they’re not doing social distancing,” she said. Again, it is this kind of a mixed message. Don’t worry. Don’t pay attention to the guidelines that we have offered you from the administration.”

“I think it does have to be said at this point that the president appears to be giving the green light to these protesters who were at these demonstrations outside state houses around the country,” Acosta noted later. “The president was absolutely just gaslighting people there in the briefing room just a few moments ago, Wolf, when he said these protesters are practicing social distancing. They’re just not.”

“The president, you know, said a week ago when they released the new guidelines that if saw any governor who was doing something he disagreed with that he would come down hard on that governor,” Acosta added. “That is not happening with these governors who are racing ahead of this administration’s guidelines opening up quickly like the governor in Georgia. So it appears that when the president is going to sound off on these governors it’s when they’re not opening up quickly enough. And, you know, just to add to that when the president is sending out protesters to the statehouses to demonstrate against social distancing that is putting pressure on the state houses, putting pressure on those governments to reopen.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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