The media is concerned that Jim Acosta’s White House press credential has been revoked over what looks like a Trump-staged confrontation. Understandable.
Does President Trump hate the media? No, he loves the media and lives off it. He hates noncompliant media, but even there he loves the controversy that keeps the spotlight on him while he maneuvers to intimidate and manipulate them into helping him bamboozle the public. And yes, there is more than a little symbiosis here.
Was there any justification to revoke Acosta’s credential? Let’s go to the (undoctored version of the) tape. Did Acosta assault, even mildly, a White House intern in a brawl over a microphone? No. Was Acosta showboating? Since when is this disqualifying in TV journalism? Let’s rewind the tape a little further. Trump wasn’t answering the question, and now we get closer to the heart of the matter.
Trump doesn’t answer questions. Or he will answer questions in a misleading, incomprehensible, uninformed or outright false way. So which is worse? Trump not answering, or answering? The media should ask itself that one. Trump often fails to clear the 50 percent accuracy bar in any series of answers or assertions, which is less than the probability of coin-flipping. What does this tell us? It ought to tell us that it is close to or worse than a waste of time to seek White House statements about anything. In other words, it’s time to revoke Trump’s access to the media, not the other way around.
The press spends a lot of time fact-checking the president, but this comes too late, and everybody knows it. Trump just wants to get his nonsense out there, where some of it will stick, like grease washed down a drain pipe. For fact-checking to have any effect on Trump, it would need to happen before he was quoted. And if, as usual, his statement proved to be worse than useless, it should be delivered in a context other than news.
Editorial cartoons, perhaps.