- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2018

Oh, Jim, you put your foot in your mouth on this one.

Jim Acosta of CNN fame — the guy who just suffered a rather rude chant of “CNN sucks” while trying to broadcast live from President Donald Trump’s rally in Tampa, Florida — went on a wild rant with fellow CNNer Brooke Baldwin about this White House’s characterization of the press as the enemy of the people.

And in short: He shouldn’t have.

In brief: He ought to have let his back-and-forth with Sarah Huckabee Sanders — his insistence she clarify the press wasn’t an enemy of the people and her refusal to do so — just die a media cycle death.

Instead, he licked his wounds on CNN air with the sympathizing, “amen” — agreeing Baldwin.

Here’s how it started:

“They believe,” Acosta summed, in his steady-rolling, serious-sounding tone, in reference to this administration, “in their heart of hearts … that journalists are the enemy of the people. Literally, the enemy of the people.”

Acosta then spoke of his attempts at a recent White House briefing to oh-so-congenially allow — his tone, not his words — Sanders to admit and acknowledge and confess that my gosh, yes, you’re right, Jim, the press is not the enemy of the people. And Sanders, Acosta went on, eyes a-widening, just wouldn’t admit it.

“I was giving Sarah several opportunities to set the record straight and she just flatly refused,” Acosta said.

He then reminded how Sanders has “come up to this podium on a regular basis and continued to tell the American people, you know, provable falsehoods, lies and so on and unfortunately, our job as journalists, as you know, Brooke, we have to call that stuff out, we have to fact check. We’re fact checkers in real time with this president because he tells falsehoods and lies so much.”

Insert image of Acosta with purely puzzled face here — as if to say, Why can’t this stupid administration just see we’re trying to report how they’re all such freaking liars, for crying out loud?

After all, this administration’s nonstop lies have put the press in such an awkward spot, he suggested.

“It’s unfortunate the position we’re all in right now,” Acosta said.

Now here’s his solution — the big Open Mouth, Insert Foot moment: “I’ll say the press is not the enemy of the people and I think maybe we should make some bumper stickers, make some buttons, maybe go out on Pennsylvania Avenue, like these folks who chant ‘CNN sucks,’ ‘Fake News,’ maybe we should go out, all journalists, should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue and chant, ‘We’re not the enemy of the people’ because, I’m tired of this. Honestly, Brooke, I’m tired of this,” Acosta said.

Oh please, make it stop.

But count me out.

Count me out of the Pennsylvania march. 

Acosta was just getting warmed up, however.

“It is not right, it is not fair, it is not just, it is un-American to come out here and call the press the enemy of the people,” he said. “And Ivanka Trump knows that. I don’t know why her father doesn’t. And I don’t know why this press secretary doesn’t. I mean, She got yelled at at a restaurant in Virginia. I’m sorry about that. I feel badly for her that that happened and that a comedian at a correspondents’ dinner said some unpleasant things about her. I’m sorry about that.

“She ought to hear some of the things that were said to me the other night in Tampa,” he continued. “She ought to read some of the things that are said about my colleagues on CNN on a regular basis. At the very least, I think we should all be able to agree on one thing. And that is that the press is not the enemy of the people. Fellow Americans are not the enemy of fellow Americans. … Forgive me for going on a rant.”

Classic. Classic poor-me rant-ism. Classic woe-is-me wallowing.

Baldwin’s response? Oh, but how right you are, Jim.

“Let me say amen,” she said, before delivering the obligatory shot at the White House. “And let me also say, what took Ivanka Trump so long to say that the press isn’t the enemy of the people.”

Have to say: Self-pity isn’t a good look for the media. Neither is it effective in conveying the idea the media is all in it for the Truth with a capital T. And the idea of marching as a merry band of beaten-down journalists on the White House, all the while screaming, ‘We’re not the enemy” and waving “I [Heart] the Media” and “Have You Hugged a Reporter Today?” bumper stickers in the air? Well, that’s just too funny for words. Acosta may not have smiled — but there are scores who did and are, just the same.

There’s a simple concept most people learn as a child that applies here, and it goes like this — if you can’t take it, don’t dish it. 

Or, equally applicable: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the fire. Members of the media who want to complain about this administration’s tough talk with the press would do best to remember who started this fight, years ago, when Trump was mocked and derided and labeled a circus act, a clown, and all manner of vicious names by the very entities who are now playing victim.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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