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The MRC Suffers From Acosta Derangement Syndrome

The Media Research Center just can't stop spewing hatred and venom at the CNN correspondent for the offense of failing to be a pro-Trump shill.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/10/2019

Jim Acosta

The Media Research Center absolutely despises CNN correspondent Jim Acosta. It's not satisfied with merely criticizing Acosta (though it absolutely loves doing that); the MRC feels it must try to dunk on him at every possible opportunity with as much faux outrage and venom as it can muster up, and doubly so if he gets something not quite right.

So it's no surprise that it spent the end of 2018 and much of 2019 so far nurturing that hate. The MRC's leading Acosta-basher, Curtis Houck, served up a year-end article on the "worst Acosta moments of 2018," unprofessionally sneering in the headline, "Jimmy, Jim, Jim" and rehashing the MRC's cheering on attacks on Acosta by the Trump White House and attendees at Trump rallies.

In a Jan. 8 post, Nicholas Fondacaro huffed that it was "obnoxious" for Acosta to point out that, in reference to President Trump's prime-time address calling the situation at the souther border "a crisis of the heart, a crisis of the soul," the Trump administration's policy of jailing children seized on the border was heartless and soulless. Fondacaro further whined: "CNN has become so entrenched in their Trump Derangement Syndrome, that they’re 'fact-checking' whether or not the President has feelings and emotions like a normal human being."

On Jan. 10, P.J. Gladnick insisted that Acosta underwent a "hilarious self-owning" by pointing out that there were parts of the U.S.-Mexico border that did not have a steel-slat fence and there was no "national emergency" there. Gladnick concluded: "Exit question: How long before @realDonaldTrump retweets Acosta accidentally making the case for why a border wall (or steel slat fence) is needed?"

Gladnick got his wish, and pathological Acosta-hater Houck couldn't have been happier, unable to stop gushing:

A day after a trollish tweet for the ages that united people across the right side of the aisle against the media for a day-long dunk squad session, President Trump responded to a question Friday afternoon from CNN chief White House correspondent/carnival barker Jim Acosta by telling him “good job” on his Twitter videos on Thursday in McAllen, Texas that inadvertently made the case for a border wall.

Houck concluded of Trump's bashing of Acosta: "Oh snap!" Is such juvenile ranting and derangement any way for a professional "media researcher" to behave?

Houck further showed his immaturity in a post headlined "Watch Tucker Carlson Mercilessly Lampoon Jim Acosta for His Epic Self-Own at the Border," which slobbered over "Carlson’s Hall-of-Fame-worthy tomfoolery." What Hall of Fame? Houck never enlightens us -- he's more obsessed with finding any excuse to attack Acosta then to raise even the meekest objection to Carlson's sympathy for white nationalism.

Then, under the clickbaity, hyperbolic headline "BOOM! Kellyanne Conway Nukes ‘Smart***’ Jim Acosta When He Delivers Low Blow," Houck declared:

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon on the West Lawn of the White House, near to where the networks have their cameras setup for live shots, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway demolished CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta for being a “smartass most of the time.”

This came in response to when, instead of continuing to ask questions about the President’s primetime address, Acosta went personal and attacked Conway by chiding how Trump doesn’t have an “alternative facts problem like you do.”

Interesting that Houck didn't think Conway's insult of Acosta was a "low blow," and that Acosta didn't "nuke" Conway by accurately pointing out her "alternative facts problem." That's what Acosta Derangement Syndrome does, apparently.

Houck, spent an entire Jan. 24 post ranting at Acosta for writing a book, tossing his usual lame insults at Acosta like "pompous" and "carnival barker." Apparently feeling that he hadn't insulted Acosta enough, he included more Acosta-bashing comments from right-wing bloggers. At one point Houck sneers: "Okay, Jim! Time to call in The Avengers! And we’ll assume you’ll want to play Captain America, right?"

Randy Hall joined in with his own rant on Jan. 28 by finding the one thing in a new book criticizing the Trump White House that worked with the MRC's agenda:

It’s certainly no surprise that CNN's Jim Acosta would go to virtually any length to criticize President Trump and anyone in his administration.

The most recent example of this behavior comes in an excerpt from a new book written by former Trump administration official Cliff Sims, who wrote that Acosta and his channel “peddled slime” with “unsubstantiated misinformation from a disgruntled ex-Trump campaign aide.”

Entitled Team of Vipers: My Extraordinary 500 Days in the Trump White House and released on Monday, Breitbart published on Sunday produced an exclusive excerpt stating that a story based on a single anonymous source claimed that the President had been “upset with” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Since Hall was simply cribbing from Breitbart, he couldn't be bothered to find out whether Acosta and CNN still stood by the story that Sims claims had been "completely made up" (since Breitbart didn't find that out either).

Scott Whitlock tried his hand at hurling invective at Acosta in a Feb. 15 post, claiming that the "self-agrandizing" Acosta "offered a typically attention-grabbing question" at President Trump's press conference declaring a national emergency over the southern border, and that he was "lectur[ing]" and being "condescending" toward parents whose children had been killed by illegal immigrants. In reality, Acosta accurately pointed out that Trump doesn't "stick to the facts" on illegal immigration and asked the "angel moms" to respond to the declaration.

Yes, the MRC spends this kind of time to personally attack a journalist.

Befitting his status as the MRC's lead Acosta-hater, it wasn't enough for Houck to try and correct Acosta for something he thinks the reporter got wrong. He went into full insult mode in a Feb. 28 post, ranting that "carnival barker" Acosta "appeared in need of a safe space following President Trump’s Hanoi press conference" because he noted that Trump gave relatively little attention to American reporters. Houck went on to huff:

Now, here’s the facts. Along with New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger, here were at least six members of the White House press corps from American outlets that were called on: Major Garrett (CBS), Jonathan Karl (ABC), David Nakamura (The Washington Post), Ayesha Rascoe (NPR), John Roberts (Fox News), and Margaret Talev (Bloomberg).

To quote CNN’s snarky motto: Facts First!

But Houck did not provide the total number of journalists Trump called on at the press conference, meaning he offers no context as to whether or not six American journalists is or is not a sufficient number relevant to the number of foreign journalists -- and, to Acosta's point, the number of foreign journalists working for state-run outlets in authoritarian countries like Russia and China -- that were called on.

Nevertheless, by the next day, the MRC's Tim Graham declared that Acosta's not-quite-proven-wrong statement was a "flat-out lie" -- apparently, Graham can read Acosta's mind now and determine intent -- citing Houck's post to claim "Acosta was 'Pants on Fire' when he complained the White House press corps was ignored" (which was not what Acosta said). Graham went on to cheer right-wing Fox News host Laura Ingraham for taking shots at Acosta.

Houck, by the way, wasn't done insulting Acosta. The same day as the above rant, he unleashed another one complaining about "another long-winded, gloat-filled diatribe against the President" from Acosta and that "Acosta couldn’t help but make a juvenile slap toward the President." Well, Houck knows all about making juvenile slaps, doesn't he?

Houck expressed his Acosta derangement once more in a March 11 post (under the leaden snark of a "Dear Diary" headline):

After what must have been an insanely painful 42 days for the White House press corps, Monday afternoon featured a White House press briefing and, needless to say, carnival barker, CNN chief White House correspondent, and infamous newsman Jim Acosta made sure to make this briefing count.

Acosta used his allotted two minutes as best he could, tussling with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders over the Democratic Party’s issues with Jewish people and the President’s rhetoric as a source of what ills America.


Afterward, on CNN Newsroom, Acosta uncorked another long-winded, uninterrupted lecture about his dismay for what comes out of the White House.

It's telling that Houck is more concerned that Acosta is allowed to say anything at a White House press conference than the fact that the Trump administration went 42 days without holding one.

In a March 18 post, Houck sneered that Acosta was an "armchair psychologist" for raising the question -- "manufactured storyline," according to Houck -- of President Trump's mental fitness after a weekend-long Twitter bender. (Apparently, Houck doesn't think his co-worker Graham is an armchair mind-reader.) Houck concluded with a larger anti-CNN screed, whining about "narratives" that are "manufactured to fit what CNN wants to spoonfeed to its liberal audience and poor souls at airports and doctor’s offices, which is one of fear and division." As if Houck isn't in the business of narrative manufacturing himself.

One of those narratives, of course, is that Acosta is a lying, unstable grandstander, and Houck manufactured that further the next day in a post headlined "MELTDOWN!" in which he asserted that Acosta offered "another lengthy diatribe and meltdown to the delight of his colleagues." How so? By pointing out that the right-wing Daily Caller served up a "softball" to the president. Houck ran to the defense of the Daily Caller reporter, gloating about he purportedly "dropped the hammer" on Acosta by claiming that "Rather than tell the President what was happening on a particular issue, I asked him to tell me." Houck exclaimed: "What an idea!"

If the president had been liberal and Acosta was the one to ask a similar question, Houck would undoubtedly be the first to accuse Acosta of asking a "softball" question.

Houck was further triggered when Acosta accurately pointed out that it's ridiculous for conservatives to claim they're being discriminated against on social media since they have such a massive presence there, led by Trump himself:

For regular or even infrequent readers of NewsBusters, alarm bells should be going off for just how idiotic of a statement this was by Acosta. The easy answer to is to go check out any of the work by our colleagues at MRC TechWatch or the Free Speech Alliance, but here’s a few specific examples of online censorship:

None of those examples, however, mentioned how social media platforms like Facebook have routinely sucked up to conservatives in response to their every little complaint, which would seem to undermine Houck's narrative. Indeed, the MRC maintains a presence on those platforms to this very day, and no presence whatsoever on alternative platforms --perhaps because it knows that for all its attempts to rebrand them as promoting "free speech," they're little more than a outlet for racism and far-right conspiracy theories.

Houck handed the Acosta Derangement baton to Ryan Foley for a March 29 post complaining that Acosta asked a "leading question" of the governor of Puerto Rico regarding Trump. Instead of yet another Houck-esque rage-fueled rant, Foley merely complained that Acosta "asked an extremely weak follow-up question."

At least someone at the MRC understands that it doesn't look professional to act like an Acosta-hating rage-bot.

New book, new bashing

Acosta's new book, "The Enemy of the People," was sure to send the MRC's already high levels of Acosta Derangement Syndrome into the stratosphere, and darn it if that isn't exactly what happened.

Graham kicked off the MRC's Acosta book attack with a May 29 post complaining that Acosta used anonymous sources to back up assertions about Trump: "This is exactly the kind of anonymous sourcing that's irresponsible, just protecting someone taking a pot shot. Did either of these sources -- or it could be the same person -- work for President Obama? That would color the quote, wouldn't it? " Of course, the MRC does invoke anonymous sources when it serves its right-wing agenda to do so; it even did so to Acosta himself last November, touting a report quoting anonymous "reporter peers" trashing him.

On June 9, Fondacaro actually agreed with Acosta that the media are not the "enemy of the people" (though he insisted they are instead part of an anti-Trump "opposition party") before his ADS kicked in and he huffed about a "vomit-inducing interview" Acosta did to promote his book. He also claimed that "Acosta fell back onto the disgusting assertion that Trump had created an environment that could get journalists killed" -- even though he quoted Acosta saying that he gets death threats and pointing out that someone mailed a pipe bomb to CNN headquarters. (ConWebWatch has documented how the MRC is shockingly callous about the safety of journalists who aren't kneejerk Trump shills, attacking them as self-centered to be so concerned.)

Graham returned to sneer in a June 11 post, after Acosta said in another interview that "I have never witnessed a concerted effort by any news organization to take a stand one way or the other on a political issue, to damage one particular party or help another." Graham retorted in response: "This is about as plausible as saying 'I have never witnessed any person eating a hamburger.'"

Graham served up more mocking a couple days later and was too busy sneering at Acosta for serving up "bipartisan-unity talk" to fully acknowledge that Acosta was being interviewed at the time by a conservative, Hugh Hewitt. He declared that Acosta's worry about President Trump's repeated attacks on the media endangering journalists is just a "tale" and adding: "Yes, when you think of unifying people -- the kind that want to grab a Coke bottle and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony -- it's not Jim Acosta. If you wonder why Acosta doesn't sound like this on CNN, the answer is simple. CNN isn't television for Republicans. It's Resistance TV."

Then Houck, the MRC's Acosta-hater-in-chef, weighed in with a hate-filled rage that was extreme by even his standards. Under the headline "BEHOLD the Worst Quotes from Jim Acosta’s Narcissistic Book of Hogwash," Houck worked up all the smug right-wing nastiness he could muster:

CNN chief White House correspondent and cartoonishly self-centered Jim Acosta released on Tuesday his 354-page work of narcissism, The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America. And, folks, it’s everything you thought it would be and then some.

From defending his showboating to admitting that he’s at times belligerent on purpose to conceding that fellow journalists loathe him, Acosta’s conceited argle bargle showcased Acosta at its worst and the dangers of the liberal media’s belief that the First Amendment only concerns them, neglecting how it also gives Americans the right to chant “CNN sucks.”

So, without any further adieu, check out this Notable Quotable-style package of quotes. And with 96 Post-It notes in the book obtained by NewsBusters, the following only represents a sampling of the nonsense.

In other words, you’re welcome, America.

Houck even linked to a photo from his personal Twitter account showing how many sticky notes he put in Acosta's book while "reading" it.

Houck toned things down somewhat for a post the next day in which he proclaimed that Acosta was a "narcissistic Looney Tune" and included more samples from the book, whining at one point that "On pages 14 and 15 in his 354-page screed, Acosta dithered away for seven paragraphs about how he was incensed that, on the eve of the 2016 election, then-candidate Donald Trump 'refused the time-honored tradition for a presidential candidate of posing in front of the plane for a photo with journalists covering his or here campaign.'"

It seems that if anyone's acting cartoonish here, it's Houck in his way-over-the-top hate for Acosta. Does the MRC pay him by the gallon of bile he spews?

One interesting aside: As of this writing, that last Houck post was the last time the MRC has devoted a post to Acosta, about his book or him in general. Has it finally realized how ridiculous it has looked with its obsessive Acosta-hate?

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