To Remain Free, the Press Can No Longer Afford to be Stupid About Donald Trump

Jim Acosta, who was denied the right to question the president-elect during the political theater he called a “press conference” the other day, appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and explained that “there’s something worse than fake news and that’s the denial of real news.”

Watch courtesy of Media Matters for America:

ANDERSON COOPER: Jim Acosta, you tried to ask a question at the press conference to president-elect Trump. He refused to take questions, saying you’re from “fake news.” What did Sean Spicer say to you after that?
JIM ACOSTA: Well, he came up to me and said that what I did was crossing the line and was inappropriate. We should repeat that during that news conference when I was trying to ask that question, Spicer threatened to throw me out of the press conference if I kept persisting. But speaking of Sean Spicer, we should report that on a conference call this morning, he was asked whether Donald Trump was going to sue over these stories for libel and Sean Spicer told reporters that the president-elect would like to move on.
I think that there’s something worse than fake news and that’s the denial of real news and beyond that, Anderson, something that might be worse than that is they’re just not in command of the facts at this point. When you listen to Kelleyanne Conway go sort of all over the place on this, they’re just not in command of the facts. But I will tell you that this has been a pattern for the Trump campaign and now the Trump transition, where they don’t like the news that’s being reported and they go after the messenger and I think that’s just going to continue.

This last should not be news to news people. Going after the messenger has been standard Trump practice all along. Some of their own fell victim to Trump’s attacks on a free press, including, prominently, NBC News’ Katy Tur, who rooted Acosta on with a “Go @Acosta go!”

It is remarkable as well that Acosta should just now be becoming aware that Team Trump is not in command of the facts. Pray tell, at what point were they? They’ve been in command of lies from the beginning. But facts never.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media itself proved guilty of both sins – repeating fake news generated by Donald Trump, and failing to report real news about Donald Trump.

The mainstream media is not enjoying the irony of having helped Donald Trump into a position where he can now reject them as “fake news!” when they don’t toe the line.

We can certainly laugh at Trump’s spin and the unintentional humor it creates:

And there is some satisfaction in seeing the press get theirs after the hit job they participated in putting on Hillary Clinton while ignoring some very real ethical problems with Donald Trump. But we don’t have the luxury of gloating, at this point. We are faced with the problem their quest for ratings helped create.

There is perhaps a ray of hope in the general outrage surrounding Trump’s actions. Certainly, Jake Tapper stood up to Paul Ryan’s Planned Parenthood abortion lies yesterday. There are few enough instances of journalists fact-checking GOP lies on the spot and many, like Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough remain Trump apologists.

Americans shouldn’t get their hopes up but have reason to hope that some in the mainstream media may be waking up to the specter of tyranny. The people we are now rooting for helped put themselves and us in this situation in the first place, but there is something to be said for tales of redemption.

It is safe to say the mainstream media has gone into this process with eyes wide stupid. They can afford to be stupid no longer.