Jim Acosta, the senior White House correspondent, has made a name for himself throughout the 2016 presidential election. He monitored Donald Trump’s at-home meeting with then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ahead of his decision to pick the latter for his Republican ticket, snapped the viral photo of Trump meeting with former critic Mitt Romney, and countless other moments. Yet it was the veteran reporter’s encounter with a clearly agitated Trump during the president-elect’s Wednesday press conference that caught everyone’s attention.
Following press secretary appointee Sean Spicer’s condemnation of BuzzFeed for its publication of an unverified report, and his erroneous inclusion of CNN in this line of criticism, Trump launched into a brief tirade against both outlets. When Acosta subsequently tried to ask ask Trump an unrelated question, the president-elect refused:
ACOSTA: Since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question? Mr. President-elect, since you’re attacking…
TRUMP: No, not you. Not you.
ACOSTA: …our news organization, can you give us a chance?
TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.
After few more heated back-and-forths between the two, in which Acosta stuck to his script while Trump repeatedly denied the journalist’s requests, the latter finally brought the tense moment to an end. “Don’t be rude,” exclaimed the president-elect, adding: “I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news.” Acosta managed to sneak his question to Trump thanks to ABC’s Cecilia Vega, though the exchange beforehand was far more unsettling.
The “fake news” insult repeated Trump’s Tuesday night tweet about BuzzFeed’s report. It also references, intentionally or otherwise, the Trump campaign’s indirect relationship with the troubling social media trend that has popped up in the president-elect’s claims regarding illegal voting, the so-called “PizzaGate” conspiracy, and other forms. All of this is troubling in its own right, but Trump’s apparent willingness to use the insult as a tool to silence reporters (as both Russia and Syria have done in Aleppo) suggests a far more nefarious future for the state of the press during the next four years.
For starters, as political commentator Sally Kohn quipped on Twitter, the “blacklisting of news outlets Trump doesn’t like” may soon begin. The Trump campaign maintained a media blacklist for much of the election for similar reasons, so why wouldn’t the Trump administration do the same?
UPDATE #1: CNN tweeted a response to Trump’s trashing of their coverage.