At President-elect Donald Trump's long-delayed press conference Wednesday morning, CNN reporter Jim Acosta became the latest victim of Trump's campaign to intimidate the press when he refused to take the reporter's question, calling Acosta's network "fake news."
At what the corporate media generously described as a “press conference,” President-elect Donald Trump — who spent only 34-and-a-half minutes answering a handful of questions — again displayed the remarkable hostility he uses to intimidate the press when he shut down CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s attempt to get a question in:
ACOSTA: Since you’re attacking us? Can you give us a question? Mr. President-elect, since you are attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance —
TRUMP: No, not you, not you. Your organization’s terrible.
ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir.
TRUMP: Go ahead. Quiet, she’s asking a question, don’t be rude. Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. I’m not going to give you a question.
ACOSTA: Can you state categorically —
TRUMP: You are fake news.
ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, that’s not appropriate.
Trump is referring to the bombshell story that CNN reported involving U.S. intelligence officials’ concern that Trump might have been compromised by the Russians, which were based on an “unverified” memo from what the intelligence community deemed a credible source.
As Jake Tapper reported immediately following Trump’s attack on Acosta, CNN did not publish the memo that Buzzfeed leaked:
TAPPER: At the beginning of the press conference, Sean Spicer, who is going to be the White House Press Secretary, suggested that both Buzzfeed and CNN published this dossier full of uncorroborated rumors. That’s not true. That’s false. CNN never did that. We never provided even one detail from that dossier, except this morning when I said that there was reason to believe that one detail that had been out there, because of Buzzfeed, was false, involving Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen. So that conflation, whether it’s because Sean Spicer misunderstood or some other reason, that’s not true. CNN did not do that.
What we did was say, in our reporting yesterday that broke the story, that the intelligence chiefs of the United States, when they briefed President Obama Thursday and President-elect Trump on Friday, provided in their briefing to these two leaders about Russian hacking into the U.S. 2016 election, two pages of a synopsis, and the synopsis was in part based on information in that dossier that was uncorroborated, and the intelligence chiefs had not yet run to ground. But they believed that the source of the dossier was credible and his sources were credible, and they believed that, A) the president-elect and the president should know that the Russians were claiming they had compromising information on him and, 2) that the Russians were claiming that there were contacts between the Trump camp, or Trump orbit, and the Russian government, or the Russian orbit, during the campaign.
It is worth remembering that CNN and other news outlets spent months reporting on unverified emails that were the result of the Russian cyberattacks.
And, aside from Trump’s bullying of Acosta, the key thing to remember here is that the most explosive part of this story is not in dispute: Trump and Obama were both briefed about credible information that Trump may have been compromised by Russians, and that he or his associates may have colluded with them.
Outrageously, Acosta later reported that Spicer threatened him following the exchange, and NBC News appears to have captured video of Spicer approaching Acosta at the end of the presser:
All Trump can do at this point is try to discredit all sources of negative news about him, and it is to the eternal shame of the reporters at that presser that they allowed him to do so. Any one of them could have yielded their question to Acosta, if for no other reason than to send the message that the press will not stand for this sort of un-American intimidation.