The flap over CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass raises larger questions about the troubling relationship between journalists and the Trump presidency. Fixing the problem will take more than simply ejecting members of the press who can’t behave.
Rude reporters are nothing new. Recall the days when Sam Donaldson would shout questions at President Ronald Reagan, and the Gipper would smile and pretend not to hear them. Some back then criticized Donaldson for being bad-mannered, and maybe he was, but at least his questions were substantive.
Contrast this with Acosta accusing the president of “demonizing” migrants with a political ad showing them climbing over a border wall. In the world of actual news, that is exactly what happened and has many times before, but reality does not fit Acosta’s narrative.
Part of the problem is the overheated way some members of the news media have reacted to the Trump presidency. Transforming the traditional “watchdog” role into “The Resistance” helps account for Trump’s 92 percent negative press coverage. Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward noted that there has been an “emotional reaction” to the president, and many “have become emotionally unhinged about this.” Woodward — definitely no fan of Trump — says the solution lies in better reporting and less “smugness.