The first day post-elections got off to a predictably chill start. Wednesday began with Donald J. Trump holding a press conference that was chaotic and snippy even for a Donald J. Trump press conference. Then the president fired controversial Attorney General — and Kate McKinnon godsend — Jeff Sessions. Now the White House has yanked the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta. And this is only day one of the new election cycle. Buckle up, we’re in for a bumpy ride.
Acosta was a key player in today’s aforementioned mad presser. When the reporter tried to ask the president about the migrant caravan and the ongoing Russian collusion investigation, Trump shouted him down, calling him a “rude, terrible person,” then ordered an intern to yank his microphone away before he was finished with his question. Acosta held onto the mic, despite the intern’s attempts to steal it from him, but he eventually ceded the floor to another reporter, NBC News’ Peter Alexander.
Even then, Acosta, sans mic, tried to ask the president about the multiple pipe bombs that were mailed to CNN’s building only two weeks ago. Confronted with a story about one of his supporters trying to kill journalists he’s repeatedly called “the enemy of the people,” the president replied, “When you report fake news, you are the enemy of the people.”
Cut to Wednesday night, and Acosta tweeted that, when he tried to get back into the White House for an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360, a secret service agent stopped him and informed him he has been told to take his hard pass.
Later White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders verified that Acosta’s press credentials had indeed been suspended. Why? Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands” on the intern who tried to take his mic.
Many colleagues, pundits, and concerned citizens rushed to Acosta’s defense, many worried that this was the president’s latest attempt to destroy the free press. They also did not believe Sanders’ accusation.
Exhibit A: There was, of course, video of the press conference to verify or debunk Sanders’ claims. Following Sanders’ claim, this moment was given Zapruder tape-level scrutiny. Even Ben Shapiro — far right pundit, former Breitbart bulldog, and person who got angry that black people were excited for Black Panther — had to agree with the “mainstream media” that there’s no way Acosta did anything untoward towards the intern (while claiming Acosta should be suspended for other, unspecified reasons).
Acosta stood his ground, calling Sanders’ claim a “lie.” So did CNN, who in a statement accused Sanders of “fraudulent accusations” and of pulling Acosta’s credentials “in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference.” They added, “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”
Sanders was also accused of spreading a doctored version of the video, which subtly speeds up the action during a crucial moment, to make it look like Acosta’s giving the intern a kind of karate chop. It certainly does not look like that in the real video.
You can watch video of the incident on CNN; the germane moment starts around the 1:25 mark. If you’d like to watch it slowed down, you can do so below. It doesn’t take going through it frame by frame to see that Acosta not only didn’t touch or hit the intern inappropriately, but he even turned to her and meekly called her “ma’am.”