Jim Acosta’s editorial coverage and hostility towards the Trump administration, helping to generate higher ratings, is encouraged by the higher-ups at CNN, according to a Politico report Thursday.
“[T]here is also a view inside the network’s newsroom that Acosta has been given the latitude, perhaps even the implicit assignment, to turn the briefing room into a personal editorial page because it is good television” writes Ben Strauss for Politico. “There’s some grumbling in the rank-and-file that this isn’t straight news” a senior person in the CNN newsroom told Politico. “But the higher up you go, the more people like what Jim’s doing or he wouldn’t be doing it.”
Acosta’s spats with the Trump administration often times take center stage, and as a corollary, so has Acosta’s fame. It’s not just conservatives or center-right news outlets that are taking notice either. “Acosta’s remarks aren’t just blunt; they’re unusual. Reporters are supposed to report, not opine,” wrote The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi in July.
In June, Acosta, angered that then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer called for a “silent” press briefing, tweeted a picture of his socks in protest, complaining that he was unable to take a picture of Spicer. He has described Spicer as “kind of useless” and his press briefings as “kind of pointless.” Claiming that the Trump administration “is stonewalling the news media,” Acosta said that covering the White House has been like “covering bad reality television.”
“[B]y informal acclamation of his peers, [Acosta] is considered the reporter most likely to become part of the news story of any given day,” Strauss wrote. This was no more apparent than in an Aug. 2 dust up with Trump senior Advisor Stephen Miller.
“What you’re proposing or what the President’s proposing here does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration,” Acosta said to Miller, before quoting Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statute of Liberty. A CNN reporter, Elise Labott, was suspended for doing essentially the very same thing in 2015 for violating their restrictions on displaying partisan biases.
CNN’s President Jeff Zucker called their commitment to nonpartisanship “essential” to viewers in a world where Fox News and MSNBC are “two partisan networks, that are looking out for their viewers.”
A lot has changed with regards to CNN’s policies in two years.
“[CNN’s president Jeff Zucker] assured me that Acosta was doing straight news. ‘100 percent,’ he said,” wrote Strauss.
Trump’s candidacy and presidency has been good to CNN, quenching the public’s thirst for news coverage hostile towards the president.
“Last year was CNN’s most profitable and this year, as many of its anchors take on Trump, the network is on pace to set a record for viewers,” Strauss wrote. By this measure, Acosta’s hostility and departure from objective journalism helps boost the networks ratings.
“From CNN’s vantage point, Acosta is standing up to a bully—both for a network that has been under attack by Trump and those who feel disenfranchised in the president’s America,” Strauss continued.
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