For much of the past few weeks, the White House has been holding the daily media briefing off-camera with only audio recording permitted, ostensibly to counter the agenda-driven, play-for-the-cameras showboating that has been exhibited by some members of the White House media pool.
But CNN’s top White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who has a history of hamming it up at media briefings, has not been pleased with the new arrangement, and he let press secretary Sean Spicer know it on Monday, repeatedly and quite loudly, according to Business Insider.
Acosta was not called on but shouted a question anyway regarding the Republican health care bill, to which Spicer replied, “There’s no camera on, Jim.”
“Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean,” responded Acosta. “Why don’t we turn the cameras on? They’re in the room. The lights are on.”
Spicer moved on but Acosta repeatedly interrupted the event by shouting virtually the same question over and over again, like a child attempting to gain the attention of an adult.
“Why are the cameras off, Sean? Why did you turn them off? Can you just give us an answer to that? Can you tell us why you turned the cameras off?” repeated Acosta. “It’s a legitimate question. You are a taxpayer-funded spokesman for the United States government. Can you at least give us an explanation for why the cameras are off?”
Spicer continued to ignore Acosta and repeatedly attempted to call on another reporter, Travis Yingst of One America News Network, who seemingly took it upon himself to put an end to the haranguing of Spicer by Acosta, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
“Can we get this out of the way? Can we address the cameras issue?” Yingst asked.
“Yes, some days it will happen, some days it won’t,” replied Spicer matter-of-factly. “The president’s going to speak today in the Rose Garden, I want the president’s voice to carry the day. So, look, this is nothing inconsistent with what we’ve said since day one.”
This actually isn’t the first time that CNN’s Acosta has lost his cool regarding the increasing use of the new off-camera format for daily media briefings. He called Spicer “useless” last week, according to The Hill, and the network also sent a court sketch artist to a briefing Friday to provide a picture in place of the camera feed.
Listen to Acosta’s acting out at the Monday news briefing here:
Sean Spicer vs. Jim Acosta pic.twitter.com/PQiKeihhld
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 26, 2017
Acosta continued his temper tantrum regarding the off-camera briefings later during a report on CNN Monday, essentially lying to the anchor in that “Sean Spicer has refused to take questions from CNN for weeks now,” according to Breitbart, though he clarified a moment later that “he may have taken a question here or there, over the last couple of weeks.”
Nevertheless, he persisted, and claimed, “We’ve largely been just blackballed during these briefings,” and added, “We’re just not getting questions to the White House press secretary … That would not have happened in previous administrations.”
While this isn’t the first time Acosta has crossed the line from being an dutifully dogged reporter to an annoying peacock strutting for attention, his antics at the news conference on the heels of CNN’s embarrassing “fake news” debacle last week certainly don’t reflect well on the network.
In fact, combined with Acosta’s whining remark afterward, they make CNN look like a floundering ship.
Perhaps if reporters would refrain from seeking their 15 seconds of fame or a viral YouTube clip during the daily media briefings, Spicer would have no problem keeping the cameras on every day.
But that simply hasn’t been the case, and whether there are cameras or even audio available at the daily briefing is entirely within the discretion of the White House. Acosta and the rest of the White House media pool may want to consider toning down their shenanigans and actually ask substantive questions instead of digging for “gotcha” moments on non-existent scandals every single day, as it has become truly tiresome.
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