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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
Posted 9/19/2018

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:

  • "With so many possible selections, it's hard to come up with a worst-of list to rank the most pathetic attempts by CNN's Jim Acosta to pose as an oh-so-tough reporter." -- Tom Blumer, June 29
  • "carnival barker ... he fancied himself the most honest, righteous man in America." -- Curtis Houck, June 25
  • "There’s no news in any of Acosta’s comments. These days, he appears on CNN to attack Republicans and opine on issues." -- Scott Whitlock, May 30
  • "Acosta’s fragile ego has been wounded before, with the aggrieved correspondent taking to social media to whine about not being called on." -- Kyle Drennen, May 17
  • "Sanders called out Acosta’s arrogance. ... He then continued to play the victim." -- Curtis Houck, April 25
  • "When one thinks of liberal reporters who relish showing off at White House press briefings, three individuals who come to mind are CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and CNN political analysts Brian Karem and April Ryan. ... the petulant Acosta." -- Curtis Houck, April 23
  • "CNN’s infamously incomparable White House correspondent Jim Acosta." -- Curtis Houck, April 11
  • "CNN's perpetually aggrieved Jim Acosta. ... As usual, Acosta is wrong."-- Tom Blumer, April 3
  • "Acosta is 'abused,' he's not the abuser. He's 'reporting,' not editorializing. That's bad enough. But [The Daily Beast's Lloyd] Grove began with the Fakest of News -- Acosta claiming that his showboating routine is oh-so-uncomfortable for him to uncork. ... People have gotten weary of Acosta, who also acts like a reality-TV star, the diva who everyone roots against." -- Tim Graham, March 12
  • "CNN’s Jim Acosta threw a hissy fit following yet another White House press briefing where he wasn’t called on to ask a question. ... [Sean Spicer said on 'Hannity' that Jim Acosta is a carnival barker in the pressroom that is both clueless and classless." -- Nicholas Fondacaro, March 6
  • "As we’ve learned since the beginning of the 2016 election, CNN’s Jim Acosta has emerged as perhaps the most melodramatic and self-centered liberal journalists to ever grace the airwaves. ... As this writer reminded Acosta on Twitter, he’s once again shown that he’s not able to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around him." -- Curtis Houck, March 5 (under the headline "What A Bitter, Sad Man")
  • "Then came the Acosta Lecture, which really should have had some pompous-sounding music underneath it." -- Tim Graham, Feb. 7
  • "CNN’s Jim Acosta took a break to whinge about the President’s brief jab at the press during the event. ... After that whine fest, Acosta went on to give Obama credit for Trump’s economic growth." -- Kristine Marsh, Jan. 26
  • "CNN's Jim Acosta has had a rough four days. It's hard not to take some pleasure in that situation, given the Chief White House Correspondent's habitual rudeness and petulance with President Trump, and with his representatives during White House press briefings. ... If there was a Guinness World Record for most self-important, self-absorbed, unaccomplished reporter in Washington, Jim Acosta would be its holder, hands-down." -- Tom Blumer, Jan. 22
  • "Acosta debased his already self-centered act by playing the role of sycophant on Friday morning for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) by tangling with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney over basic facts about Senate procedure. ... CNN hack." -- Curtis Houck, Jan. 19
  • "As if their biased outbursts on CNN weren’t enough, chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and political analyst April Ryan got the chance to unleash more of their rage at President Trump ... Acosta answered first, automatically going to the most extreme ... We’ve seen this behavior before from Acosta." -- Kristine Marsh, Jan. 18
  • "In the third White House press briefing since his promotion to CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta was promptly burned on Thursday by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in regards to CNN’s ratings in response to Acosta’s question about what appeared to be contradictory Trump tweets about the FISA program. ... A smirk went across Acosta’s face before gathering himself up to reply ... Acosta was apoplectic afterward on CNN Newsroom." -- Curtis Houck, Jan. 11

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."

In a July 31 post on another heckling, Houck once again called Acosta a "carnival barker," this time adding "showboater" to his list of derogatory names, and again put the insults in boldface. He then further attacked the "self-centered liberal journalist" for responding to the crowd's heckling

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.”

Then on Wednesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Acosta said this about his Trump coverage: “Listen, when I covered Barack Obama, I was just as tough on him. People might not believe that.”

As tough on Obama as he’s been on Trump? Let’s investigate.

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.

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