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CNN & Jim Acosta: False Martyrs and ‘Fake News’ Makers?

We are being told that America is in the clutches of an aspiring authoritarian determined to suppress the First Amendment.  Or at least that the video released over Twitter by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to justify revoking CNN journalist Jim Acosta’s press pass is a manipulated fraud and that this is just the latest proof positive of President Trump’s fake “fake news” lies and thirst for power beyond the constitutional scope afforded to the Office. And then there’s Jim Acosta who always appears to be in the thick of it playing the victim and whom context universal to “both” videos proves that while the Fourth Estate may be dead, he is not its post-mortem martyr.

The Associated Press released a compelling side-by-side analysis of the video clip tweeted out by Huckabee Sanders showing Acosta rather roughly resisting the efforts of a young, female White House intern to take back the microphone after his continued and childish interruptions of the President. Per a producer here at OpsLens with the technical expertise to say so, the breakdown analysis of slow-downs and strategic, manipulative editing appears valid. Acosta’s “resistance” wasn’t that rough in the media-provided version.

However, this was insight given with the disclaimer that it is hard to actually verify from this AP video whether or not it is a legitimate comparison and not the cliché apples to oranges. (You know, just because they say so.) In the producer’s opinion, the tweeted video appears to come from a camera filming footage playing over a television or other screen. That sort of extra layer added can potentially cause weird discrepancies like those described between the original and feed versions. (Sort of how the refraction of light on the surface of water distorts and can blur the appearance and location of fish beneath the surface is one simplified analogy.)

Regardless, everyone is following the shiny object looking at the videos and trying to assign “fake news” to either Acosta or the Trump administration. Does it really matter when it appears both may well just be playing politics? Meanwhile, the narrative has sadly pivoted not only from Acosta’s rudeness but the real issue at hand: the missing Fourth Estate as van guard protecting transparency, truth and accountability—not ratings- or politics-driven agitators on any side of the aisle. The job of the press at the White House press conferences is not to ask emotionally charged questions in the hopes of getting a sought after sound bites or clips for social media. It is to ask direct questions, to get the facts. Instead what we have is the likes of Acosta on the attack with pre-scripted politicization and disrespectful constant interruption of the President of the United States.

Watching back clips of this post-election press briefing reveals an entitled, arrogant (and false) martyr of freedom of the press in America after actual journalism kicked the bucket. Regardless of whether or not the film was doctored (strategically stupid move by the Team Trump if it was), one has to wonder why is it always Jim Acosta? What exactly was Acosta doing there, if he’s not willing to listen to the President’s answers even to his own bad questions?

Editorializing should at least happen after the fact finding. Alas, Jim Acosta appears too busy playing “fake news” martyr to be an objective journalist for the causes he belabors while in the press pool. Perhaps, the Trump administration just saw an opportunity to swat at an annoying fly and they took it. Surely, CNN has another reporter, perhaps even one with better manners, that they can send in Jim Acosta’s place? The answer to this question is “yes” in terms of having another reporter who holds a hard press pass for White House access. In fact, CNN has 50 of them according to Press Secretary Sanders.

This leads us to another rounds of questions: Is it Acosta’s job to stir controversies and keep CNN and himself (victims!) in the headlines and shape the national political dialogue and distract in a predetermined direction? And what exactly is CNN doing by suing the Trump administration on behalf of Acosta and itself as a business alleging tyrannical repression of First Amendment freedom of the press?

An even better question to consider: Is CNN in the business of not simply reporting a curated offering of what President Trump would dub “fake news” to its audience but making it?

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Sheena Hutchison

Sheena Hutchison is a political and media analyst with nearly a decade of experience specializing in providing media and policy articulation on domestic and national security issues.

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