The MRC's War on Journalists, Part 2: Jim Acosta
Endless insults and cheering on hecklers at Trump rallies: That's how the Media Research Center conducts "media research" on CNN's White House correspondent.
By Terry Krepel
If there's one journalist whom the Media Research Center sees as a threat to President Trump -- and hates even more than Katy Tur -- it's CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Seemingly every time Acosta appears on TV, the MRC responds with a post designed to denigrate and belittle him for failing to be a Trump sycophant.
For instance, a July 1 post by Nicholas Fondacaro ranted about Acosta's alleged "out of control shouting, grandstanding, and childish antics," insisting at he was "acting all self-righteous" and "indignantly proclaimed" his need to ask questions of the president. That kind of biased, negative language to describe Acosta is a key part of what the MRC does to delegitimize Acosta for doing his job.
The MRC also cheers every time Acosta is attacked in other forums: For instance, Scott Whitlock gleefully transcribed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' insult to Acosta that "I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences," and Curtis Houck happily highlighted how a crowd at a pro-Trump rally heckled "carnival barker" Acosta.
In the first half of 2018 alone, the MRC hurled a plethora of hate and invective at Acosta:
On top of that, Houck -- apparently the MRC's designated Acosta-hater -- ended 2017 with a post compiling what he claimed were "the Top Ten Jaw-Dropping Jim Acosta Meltdowns from 2017," adding: "In 2017, CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta gave viewers free doctorates in how to become showboaters and throw hissy fits."
Mocking Acosta for wanting context
Following President Trump's remarks in May that appeared to smear at least some undocumented immigrants as "animals," the Media Research Center did what it's paid to do and rushed to Trump's defense, insisting despite his vague linking that Trump was referring only to the gang MS-13. Scott Whitlock complained Trump's words were "distorted," Fondacaro called it "totally false," Houck bizarrely claimed that the media was defending MS-13 by merely acknowledging that they are human beings, and Fondacaro returned to claim that the media thought it was fair to allegedly take Trump out of context "given his past comments about immigrants."
The MRC might have a point if it wasn't so eager to take the people it despises out of context -- something, in fact, it did just a few weeks before to Acosta.
In an April 24 post, Houck insisted that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta was "attacking the intelligence of the American people" by saying that some people don't know that Trump's attacks on the media are an "act" and that "their elevators might not hit all floors." But Houck plucked those words out of context, editing out the fact that Acosta immediately said afterward that "My concern is that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days. Somebody's going to get hurt." In other words, he was worried about the safety of himself and other journalists.
Houck merely paraphrased this important context as saying that "Acosta reiterated prior predictions that Trump’s criticism of the press will result in someone getting hurt" and hid the fact that it's directly related to the "elevator" comment.
The next day, Houck mocked Acosta for asking that the right-wing media put his words in context -- the very same thing his employer demanded the media do to Trump's words a few weeks later -- cheering how "conservative Twitter unloaded" on Acosta for demanding context "and, in a brief moment of indulgence, it was glorious."
Houck then included a fuller quote of Acosta "since he claims he’s being unfairly attacked" (though he didn't mention that he was one of those who had previously published only a selective quoting of Acosta), then baselessly decided "there's no ambiguity there" -- again ignoring that Acosta was talking about threats to journalists.
Houck's hatred for Acosta appears to be so personal and so unhinged (to use a favorite MRC term) that nothing he writes about Acosta should be taken as anything other than vindictiveness.
Cheering Acosta hecklers at Trump rallies
In a June 25 post, Houck sneered that Acosta was a "carnival barker" and happily noted "quite the crowd behind him during a live shot with chants of 'go home, Jim' and 'fake news Jim,' while one attendee moved from side to side with a 'CNN Sucks' sign" -- and, yes, Houck carefully put all of those insults in boldface type for maximum impact every time he referenced them in his post. Houck further sneered that later in the segment, Acosta spoke "in a tone which suggested he fancied himself the most honest, righteous man in America."
Houck later added an Acosta-bashing update: "Acosta returned for another live shot in The Situation Room’s 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour and, even though the rally had started and thus crowds were no longer heckling him, the pompous CNNer again acknowledged their chants from earlier in trying to make viewers feel bad for him."
Of course, Houck's obsessive hatred for Acosta -- and, as the leader of the MRC's war on Acosta, his need to criticize every single thing Acosta does -- might be generating a little sympathy for the reporter as well.
A lame 'reality check'
The Media Research Center's Rich Noyes wrote in a May 17 post:
In the past 18 months, CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta has suggested President Trump is a “racist,” while whining that Trump’s complaints about press bias were doing “real damage to the First Amendment,” speculating that some day we might see “a dead journalist on the side of the highway, because of the rhetoric coming out of the White House.”
Now, for most legitimate researchers, an "investigation" being presented as a "reality check" (per Noyes' headline) would involve some sort of comprehensive analysis of eight years of Acosta's reporting.
But this is the MRC we're talking about here, where shoddy, biased research is the norm. Instead, Noyes cherry-picks a handful of cherry-picked, Acosta-bashing posts out the MRC's own archive and baselessly presents them as fully representative of Acosta's work during the Obama years. Of course, the MRC never clipped anything from Acosta that didn't reinforce its anti-media agenda, so any Acosta work that was critical of Obama never made it into the MRC's archive.
In other words, this is the laziest "reality check" ever, designed only to further the MRC's agenda and not to enlighten anyone with facts -- and, of course, to serve as yet another hit job on Acosta.