The Atlantic, in a Tuesday op-ed written by Todd Purdum, accused CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta of contributing to the “debased ritual of performance art that the White House briefing has become.”
Acosta, Purdum argued, has been in the news recently because of the manner in which he asks questions more often than because of the questions he asks.
He has made himself a part of the story in a way that actively fosters the perception held by many Americans — and capitalized on to great effect by President Donald Trump — that the media, or at least certain media personalities, are the enemy of the American people.
Whenever a reporter who has not been kidnapped by terrorists, shot by an assailant, or won a big prize becomes an actor in her own story, she has lost the fight. Or in this case, reinforced the corrosive, cynical, and deeply dangerous feedback loop that has convinced Trump’s most fervent supporters that his relentless brief against the press has merit: FAKE NEWS! SAD!
Former White House press secretary Ari Fletcher agreed, noting that Acosta’s methods were only hurting other reporters who might be painted with the same broad brush.
A WH reporter’s job is to ask questions, not take stands. Editorial writers and columnists should take stands, but when a WH reporter does it, he only hurts himself and his WH colleagues. https://t.co/ivOB5l8vRa
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) August 8, 2018
Purdum concluded with another warning that constant duels played out in daily press briefings would only serve to give the president leverage:
“The last thing Trump — or the press, or the public — needs is another convenient villain in the performative arena of the long-running reality show that is his administration. Acosta’s broadside blurs the line between reporting and performance, between work and war, at a time when journalists have a greater obligation than ever to demonstrate that what they do is real, and matters — and is not just part of the passing show.”
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