Right-wing media are taking a clip of an interview with Jim Acosta out of context to claim that CNN’s chief White House correspondent was disparaging President Donald Trump’s voters as “just not smart enough.” But a closer look at the interview in question shows that Acosta was discussing the repeated attacks on journalists emanating from the Trump White House and his “concern … that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days” by someone who took the president’s comments literally.
On April 24, Variety published an interview with Acosta and two other well-known journalists who cover the Trump White House in which they discuss a recent trend in the Trump era of reporters finding “themselves getting death threats” as a result of their work. In response to that and a question about Trump calling journalists fake news, Acosta said, in part, “The problem is is that people around the country don’t know it’s an act. They’re not in on the act, and they take what he says very seriously. … They don't have all their faculties in some cases, their elevator might not hit all floors. My concern is is that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days, somebody's going to get hurt. And at that point, the White House, the president of the United States, they're going to have to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whether or not they played a role in this, whether they created this toxic environment that resulted in a journalist getting hurt."
But conservative media figures have present Acosta’s words out of context in an attempt to accuse the CNN correspondent of slandering Trump “voters.” Fox & Friends showed only the portion of Acosta’s quote about people who “don't have all their faculties in some cases, their elevator might not hit all floors” and did not clarify what question he was responding to. Numerous other right-wing and pro-Trump media outlets and personalities, including former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, have similarly taken Acosta’s words out of context to accuse him of “trash[ing] the intellect of Americans.” From the April 25 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Well, Tomi, on another topic, your favorite reporter gave an interview -- I’m just kidding, Jim Acosta gave an interview yesterday with Variety, talked about voters and gave us an input into his mindset. Take a listen to what Jim Acosta said.
JIM ACOSTA (CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): The problem is is that people around the country don't know it's an act. They’re not in on the act, and they take what he says very seriously and they take attacks from Sean Spicer, and Sarah Sanders, and what they do to us on a daily basis very seriously. They don't have all their faculties in some cases, their elevator might not hit all floors.
HEGSETH: “They don’t have all their faculties.” They’re just not smart enough, Tomi.
TOMI LAHREN (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): I never get tired of the leftist mainstream media insulting Trump voters because it makes it even easier for us to go back in 2020 and re-elect him. The more they tell us that we’re stupid, the more we’re going to go back and vote for Donald Trump, so thank you for the boost. And I would caution the leftist mainstream media, because I know that they want to see a Democrat take it in 2020, so let's have a cautionary tale from one Hillary Clinton who called us a basket of deplorables and also insulted our intelligence. How did that work out for Hillary?