‘There’s No Camera On, Jim!’ Showboating CNN’s Acosta Yells at Spicer Over Press Access

At Monday’s audio-only and photos-only White House press briefing, CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta continued to make a fool out of himself, melting down and screaming at press secretary Sean Spicer over the current set-up for briefings.

Acosta first interrupted after a female reporter didn’t get her question answered. When he yelled at Spicer to answer her question, Spicer lobbed some A+ shade at Acosta: “There's no camera on, Jim.”

The CNN liberal immediately took Spicer’s bait, screaming as Spicer tried to move on: “Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean! Why don't we turn the cameras on? Why don't we turn the cameras on? Why not turn the cameras on, Sean?  They’re in the room, the lights are on.”

Roughly 10 minutes later, local Fox affiliate WTTG-5 reporter Ronica Cleary asked about White House Correspondents Association president Jeff Mason’s meetings with the Trump press team and if the lack of on-camera briefings represented “a new normal.”

Instead of respectfully going back and forth with Spicer like Cleary did, Acosta interjected to further badger Spicer, convincing absolutely no one that he’s a sober journalist (and the type Spicer referenced last week):

ACOSTA: Why are the cameras off, Sean? Why don’t you turn them on?

SPICER: Trey, Trey, Trey.

ACOSTA: Can you just give you an answer to that? Can you tell us why you turned the cameras off? Why are they off, Sean? 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's a legitimate question. 

ACOSTA: It’s a legitimate question. You are a taxpayer-funded spokesman for the United States government. Can you at least give us an explanation of why the cameras are off? 

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Thankfully for Acosta, One America News Network’s balanced White House reporter Trey Yingst bailed him out by pressing Spicer to “get this out of the way” and “address the cameras issue.”

Once the tape-delayed audio aired, Acosta was parked outside the White House to again pontificate with his grievances.

Taking the first issue of Spicer trolling CNN by not calling them, Acosta vented:

Sean Spicer has refused to take questions from CNN for weeks now. It has been going on for some time. You know, he may have taken a question here or there over the last couple of weeks, but we've largely been just blackballed during these briefings. We're just not getting questions to the press secretary. That would not have happened in previous administrations. Fox News always got a question every day at the briefing until President Obama, so let's just make sure that's perfectly clear to everybody watching out there. Fox News always got questions. MSNBC always got questions during the previous administrations. This is a new thing this White House is doing to us here at CNN and to a couple other news outlets as well.

“Let's make this clear. This is not a Trump campaign event. This is the United States government saying that we can't have cameras on inside the White House briefing room for an event that is typically covered with cameras...but, Ana, make no mistake, this is the gradual erosion of the expectations of the traditions that have been in this city for about a quarter of a century now, that these briefings be held on camera,” he added.

He finished on his third point by stating his concern that President Trump would be speaking this week with India’s Prime Minister in the Rose Garden but not holding a subsequent press conference.

“[H]e's getting the coverage without the accountability and I think that we just need to recognize what's happening here and that is what we are typically accustomed to in this town in terms of covering the White House, that is being eroded away right in front of our eyes,” Acosta concluded.

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from June 26's CNN Newsroom:

CNN Newsroom
June 26, 2017
2:34 p.m. Eastern

JIM ACOSTA: Sean, Sean, can you answer whether the President still believes the question —

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Can you just answer Jen’s question?

SEAN SPICER: There's no camera on, Jim. 

ACOSTA: Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean! Why don't we turn the cameras on? 

SPICER: Jen — 

ACOSTA: Why don't we turn the cameras on?

SPICER: — I'm sorry you have to deal with — Jen? Jen, go ahead.

ACOSTA: Why not turn the cameras on, Sean?  They’re in the room, the lights are on. 

(....)

RONICA CLEARY: Sean, thank you. Jeff Mason sent an account of the meeting that he had to the members of the White House Correspondents Association about the future of the press briefings, would you say his account of that meeting was accurate?

SPICER: I was not provided with that. I had the conver —

CLEARY: Could you give us an account from your perspective of what happened in that meeting and what we’ve — 

SPICER: We've had two since then, another one since then. Jeff has stated the position of the board that he believes, and I’ve shared with him where we are on that, that we have been consistent since December and January when we addressed this issue with them specifically and publicly and that we'll continue to have a mix of opportunities to stay in touch with the media. 

CLEARY: This seems to have been a drastic shift, starting form maybe the week before the President took his first trip abroad, but now we see you on camera once a week. Is that a new normal that we would expect? 

SPICER: We’ll see. We’ll just — we’ll continue to mix things? Trey?

ACOSTA: Why are the cameras off, Sean? Why don’t you turn them on?

SPICER: Trey, Trey, Trey.

ACOSTA: Can you just give you an answer to that? Can you tell us why you turned the cameras off? Why are they off, Sean? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: It's a legitimate question. 

ACOSTA: It’s a legitimate question. You are a taxpayer-funded spokesman for the United States government. Can you at least give us an explanation of why the cameras are off? 

TREY YINGST: So we can get this out of the way? Can we address the cameras issue? Do you think this will —

SPICER: Yes. Some days we'll have them and some days we won't. The President’s going to speak today in the Rose Garden. I want the President's voice to carry the day — you know, and I think — so — look, this is nothing inconsistent from what we had since day one.

(....)

2:55 p.m. Eastern

ACOSTA: Well, a couple issues here, Ana, and let's separate them. One is Sean Spicer has refused to take questions from CNN for weeks now. It has been going on for some time. You know, he may have taken a question here or there over the last couple of weeks, but we've largely been just blackballed during these briefings. We're just not getting questions to the press secretary. That would not have happened in previous administrations. Fox News always got a question every day at the briefing until President Obama, so let's just make sure that's perfectly clear to everybody watching out there. Fox News always got questions. MSNBC always got questions during the previous administrations. This is a new thing this White House is doing to us here at CNN and to a couple other news outlets as well. But as for the camera issue, as you know Ana, and as you witnessed, that briefings was off camera once again today, so I asked a couple times during the briefing, why can't we turn these cameras on? 

People who are not accustomed to being in that briefing room need to understand. It is set up like a TV studio. You can turn the cameras on. The cameras can be on at any moment. There are TV lights on all the time, because the cameras can be turned on at any moment, and the White House — let's make this clear. This is not a Trump campaign event. This is the United States government saying that we can't have cameras on inside the White House briefing room for an event that is typically covered with cameras and, you know, I'll let the viewers decide why they're being kept off, but I tried a couple times during the briefing today to get a question to Sean Spicer and to ask why these cameras are not being turned on. Now, Trey Yingst, over at OANN, which is a conservative outlet, to his credit, when Sean Spicer was not answering my question about why the cameras are being kept off, did ask the question and said, hey, let's get this out of the way, why are these cameras being kept off, and Spicer basically punted on that issue and said, well, there will be times they're off and times they're on, but Ana, make no mistake, this is the gradual erosion of the expectations of the traditions that have been in this city for about a quarter of a century now, that these briefings be held on camera.

Further to that point, this openness and transparency point, the President is going to be making a statement this afternoon with Prime Minister Modi from India. Those head of state press conferences or statements are typically press conferences, where the American press gets two questions and the foreign press will get two questions. That is not happening today. So, the President is using the setting of the Rose Garden to talk about whatever he wants to talk about and presumably he may talk about this travel ban, but he's not going to be taking questions from the news media. And so, once again, he's getting the coverage without the accountability and I think that we just need to recognize what's happening here and that is what we are typically accustomed to in this town in terms of covering the White House, that is being eroded away right in front of our eyes. 


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