If you haven’t heard yet, President-elect Donald Trump had some choice words for CNN’s Jim Acosta earlier today, which culminated in saying, “You [CNN] are fake news.” Click here for the heated exchange.
I, for one, was happy to see Fox News’ Shepard Smith standing up for his fellow journalist (Mr. Acosta) and competitor (CNN), and calling out Mr. Trump for “belittling” and “delegitimizing” a credible news outlet like CNN. Click here to watch Shep’s full statement.
Apart from the absurdity and inappropriateness of such a statement coming from the President-elect, perhaps the most troubling aspect to this story is that it is yet another example of the thin-skinned demagoguery of the President-elect in his relationship to the media. What on earth are the merits or utility of calling CNN “terrible” and labeling them “fake news”? Especially in the wake of the ‘fake news’ controversies last month, labeling a mainstream outlet as such only muddies the conversation; and further, it comes across as a childish, reflexive attack by the President-elect to the controversy. It’s like the five year-old brat who parades around the playground announcing to his frenemies, “I’m a trampoline: whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you.” This is the polar opposite of political leadership.
Additionally, it is unsettling to learn that Mr. Acosta was later told by incoming press secretary Sean Spicer that he would be asked to leave should he try to push Mr. Trump for an answer again (click here for Mr. Acosta’s account). In light of other potential changes to the relationship the President-elect will maintain with the media, this is not a confidence-inspiring development.