In ridiculing President Donald Trump and NBA basketball player Kevin Durant for their strained relations with the media, New York Daily News sports columnist Carron J. Phillips compares them to dictators and bullies.
Phillips criticized Trump for suspending CNN reporter Jim Acosta from White House press briefings. He criticized Durant, a forward who plays for the Golden State Warriors, for telling reporters not to ask him about his recent clash with teammate Draymond Green. Phillips, who covers sports, race and politics, writes:
"Jim Acosta wanted to know about the Russia investigation, and why the President characterized a migrant caravan as an invasion.
"Reporters in Houston were curious to know where Durant’s relationship with Green stood after the Warriors had just lost by 21 points to the Houston Rockets in their first time on the court together since their spat.
All the questions directed toward the two were valid and asked by adults, Phillips says. "All of the answers were uncalled for, and answered by children. Durant and Trump need to grow up."
Suggesting Trump is a dictator, Phillips brought up a quote by the late U.S. Sen. John McCain from an appearance in 2017 on NBC's Meet the Press:
"When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history."
Sen. McCain used that quote to plant a seed that President Trump is a dictator, and Phillips repeated it to suggest the same thing.
Phillips blames the White House ban on Acosta for asking Trump "some tough, but logical and necessary, questions during a press conference, a decision that was later overturned by a judge. However, in true Trump fashion, the White House then threatened to ban Acosta again, and any other reporter, that didn’t follow a new set of rules handed down." Phillips ignored the real reason for the ban on Acosta, who fought a female intern for the microphone.
The Daily News' Phillips also reacted negatively to those White House press rules:
"These aren’t guidelines, there are rules that spit in the face of career professionals that have achieved the duty of reporting on the highest office in American government.
"This reads like something teachers come up with for assemblies with middle school kids, not adults who have a job to do, which involves asking tough questions and holding the President and his administrative accountable, regardless of their political party affiliation."
On the same Meet the Press program, Sen. McCain had said, "We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital." Phillips says that Durant doesn’t see it the same way.
It was during Golden State's Nov. 12 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that Durant and Green got testy with one another. Reporters kept that story alive for several days, and in one post-game press conference, a reporter asked Durant about it. “Don’t ask me about that again,” Durant said (2 minutes, 10 seconds into the video).
Durant had acted "like a child instead of manning up to answer questions about an issue that he caused," Phillips says. "Like Trump, Durant has the right not to answer the question. But trying to dictate to a reporter what is fair game and what isn’t, crosses a line."
Phillips defended reporters who ask questions of ''the Durants and Trumps of the world" because "they do have a job to do, and asking questions based on your behavior and actions is one of them."
The Daily News' writer says Durant and Trump "didn’t quite pay attention to one of the job descriptions that comes with their chosen professions. Because answering questions is just something that comes with the territory when you’re the leader of the free world, or if you’re one of the best basketball players on the planet and you just had a very public fight with a teammate."
Once again missing the point of Acosta's suspension as based on his inappropriate physical behavior, Phillips concludes that Durant and Trump need to grow up because the questions come with the job and are never going to stop. "And like it or not, refusing to answer the question, or using intimidation tactics to silence reporters, won’t make the story go away, it just adds fuel to the fire."