- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2020

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and CNN’s Jim Acosta clashed Friday over who is the real fake news.

The sparring erupted at a White House press briefing when Mr. Acosta accused President Trump of engaging in fake news and “exploiting children” by tweeting a video that mocked CNN.

“It seems as though he’s exploiting children to make some sort of crass political point. Why is he sharing fake videos?” said Mr. Acosta, the network’s chief White House correspondent and a frequent critic of the president.

Ms. McEnany responded: “He was making a point about CNN specifically. He was making a point that CNN has regularly taken him out of context.”

The video of a white toddler chasing a black toddler down a sidewalk was accompanied by dramatic music and adorn with a CNN chyron that read: ‘Terrified toddler runs from racist baby.’

The video then revealed early footage of the two toddlers running toward each other and then warmly embracing before they begin running away from the camera. This time the music was the Carpenters’ “Close to You.”

Ms. McEnany said the point of the video was to poke fun at CNN for its misleading coverage of the president.

“CNN has regularly taken him out of context,” she said, noting CNN’s erroneous 2019 coverage of an encounter between a group of Covington, Kentucky, teens and a Native American activist on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“CNN misleadingly aired a clip from one viewpoint repeatedly to falsely accuse the Covington boys of being ‘students in MAGA gear harassing a Native American elder,’” Ms. McEnany said. “That’s a harassing video, a misleading video about children that had really great consequences for their future.”

CNN settled a $275 million lawsuit brought by the family of one of the teens. The terms of the settlement were not revealed.

Mr. Acosta pressed the press secretary about the toddlers in the Twitter video.

“So you’re saying it is OK to exploit two toddlers hugging one another on a sidewalk to make some sort of political point,” he said. “When you share fake videos like that. Doesn’t that make you fake news?

Ms. McEnany said the video was “satirical.”

“The president was making a satirical point that was quite funny if you go and actually watch the video,” she said.

“The point is that it was a play on CNN repeatedly taking the president out of context,” she said. “Like the time when you guys had a chyron that read, ‘Trump’s slam some illegal immigrants: They’re animals.’ Well, guess what, the people who called animals were MS-13 illegal immigrants who regularly mutilate people in this country. Those things are entirely misleading.”

Mr. Acosta fired back that Mr. Trump when he announced his presidential run in 2015, said some Mexican immigrants are “rapists.”

“He has tried to pass a Muslim ban in the country. He has described black NFL players as sons of bitches if they take a knee during a football game,” Mr. Acosta said.

“That’s an absurd attempt to justify the misleading headlines that are regularly on your network,” Ms. McEnany said.

She began to describe the discrepancy between CNN’s gushing coverage of racial justice protests and bleak assessment of Mr. Trump’s plans for a rally Saturday, but Mr. Acosta interrupted her.

“Let me finish, Jim,” she said. “This isn’t a cable news segment. I’m answering your question right now from the White House podium.”

She called CNN’s coverage “appalling.”

“You have one person on your network saying that this is a celebration in the streets, a carnival-like atmosphere, that there’s a guy with a sign that says free hugs, and it’s beautiful what is happening in the streets,” Ms. McEnany said. “But in a Trump rally, where we celebrate historic low African American unemployment, criminal justice reform, HBCUs — that rally is not allowed because, guess what, Jim, it doesn’t fit the ideological agenda of CNN.”

Ms. McEnany moved on to the next reporter’s question.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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