We Love a Free Press
This should actually be titled: "We Love a Free Press, but Please Only Ask Questions that We Approve Of or Sit Down and Shut Up." Donald Trump's latest press conference was, of course, a mess, but not because of the usual rambling and self-praise. This time, Trump got into a heated exchange with a reporter. Ok, well I guess that's happened before at other conferences when Trump did not like the questions being asked of him. This time was slightly different though because after shouting down CNN reporter Jim Acosta and, of course, name-calling, the White House decided to suspend the reporter's press pass. Their reason? Acosta put his hands on a woman.
Lest you start thinking Acosta punched out an intern during the conference, I'll have you know that he only put up a hand to keep her from snatching the microphone from him as he asked Trump questions that the president apparently didn't want to answer. To be honest, the White House should make a list of everything Trump doesn't want to talk about and disseminate it among reporters. This will prevent any ire from the president and will definitely shorten press conferences as only Fox News correspondents will be able to ask questions. This will make for a more relaxed Trump. (Everyone knows that people get into politics so that they can get constant back-patting and adulation.)
What were Acosta's questions, you might ask? Surely, he said something demeaning about Trump for the president to shout him down during the press conference. Right? Nope. Acosta tried to correct the president's depiction of the migrant caravan as an "invasion" and asked why he characterized them so. Did the president think that he was demonizing immigrants to serve Republicans in the election? Acosta argued that the president's depiction of the migrants as climbing over walls to get into the US was false, as the caravan is miles away from the US border. The president, who had no response to this reasonable point, immediately became sarcastic and condescending, telling Acosta that he should let him run the country and Acosta could run CNN. His next tack was to criticize Acosta's ratings, since Trump believes the rest of the world operates like him, flinching at any possibility that we are not God's gift to the world. Acosta tried to ask another question, but Trump was over it. Acosta tried to talk about the Russia investigation- pretty much a forbidden topic- and the president told him that the investigation was a hoax and commanded him to put down the mic. When Acosta persisted, asking the president about possible indictments from the investigation, the president went on the attack, calling Acosta a "rude, terrible" person. Acosta resisted handing over the microphone to a White House intern, but he didn't do more than put his arm up when she tried to snatch the microphone away from him. Eventually, he relented and another correspondent received the mic and was told that the president "didn't care for him, either" when he tried to defend Acosta as a good reporter.
All in all, none of this was a surprise except for when they suspended Acosta's press pass and how Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who is consistently without shame in her dogged misrepresentations of events) tried to put out doctored video to make it look like Acosta was karate chopping the intern's arm as she reached for the microphone. Everything else was normal- Trump avoiding difficult questions, Trump insulting people for not agreeing with him, and the usual surreal feeling you get that you must be watching a television comedy about the US presidency. This can't be real, right? Right?
Did I mention that Trump ended his tirade toward Acosta by saying: "When you report fake news, as CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people." Journalists are the enemy of the people because they're reporting things that Trump doesn't like. Let that sink in.