On the campaign trail last January, President-elect Donald Trump bragged that he “could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.”
Today during his press conference, Trump did the rhetorical equivalent to CNN reporter Jim Acosta, and the assembled reporters did nothing.
After Trump attacked CNN’s report that top U.S. intelligence officials believe Russian operatives may have compromising information about him, Acosta yelled out, “Since you are attacking us, can you give us a question?” In an extended back and forth, Trump lashed out at Acosta’s “terrible” news outlet.
“I’m not going to give you a question,” Trump said. “I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news!”
Acosta was left to say that Trump was being “inappropriate” and sink back in his chair as Trump’s supporters clapped.
And the rest of the press apparently did nothing at all. They watched it happen, then moved on to ask their own questions. Rather than deferring to their CNN colleagues until they had an opportunity to speak or or pushing back against Trump’s attack on a media outlet or even walking out, they acted like it hadn’t happened.
This is a pattern. Members of the press have repeatedly refused to stand together as Trump has lashed out at their colleagues.
Trump banned The Des Moines Register from covering his campaign after it printed a critical editorial. There was no collective response from the press. So he banned more outlets when he didn’t like their coverage.
His campaign threw a New York Times reporter out of an event. No response from the press.
He confined the reporters to press pens where he could mock them by name to the glee of his supporters, putting them in physical danger. And into the pens they went, day after day.
His campaign manager allegedly manhandled a reporter. CNN hired the campaign manager!
Trump treats reporters like conquered foes who he can manhandle at will. If they can’t figure out a way to stand up together and for one another, he will pick them off one by one and grind the free press into the dirt.
The press conference reportedly ended with Acosta being heckled by Omarosa. Who’s next?