CNN’s excited reaction on Friday to a judge’s ruling giving Jim Acosta back his press pass continued as Newsroom host Jim Sciutto compared the U.S. to the oppressive China (where he served under the Obama administration). Also, co-host Poppy Harlow treated Acosta like a conquering hero, cheering, “I have always been proud to call Jim Acosta a colleague and a friend....This is not about him. This is about press freedom and he will go back to work today.”
Given how self important Acosta seems, it sure seems like this is “about him.” Sciutto called on viewers to “think of the precedent” and added, “The only other personal experience I had of this was in China, where China rejected and overturned and took away press credentials because they didn't like the questions asked or the coverage of the stories.”
Harlow declared, “You don't want to get even close to that.”
Perhaps sensing how ridiculous the comparison is, Sciutto retreated, “I'm not saying the U.S. Is China. I'm just saying there is a commonality there.”
Panelist Jeffrey Toobin smugly redefined the liberal Acosta as an American hero: “One way of looking at what Jim Acosta was accused of doing was being too aggressive with follow-up questions. Another word for that is journalism.”
A transcript is below:
November 16, 2018
10:41 a.m. Eastern
POPPY HARLOW: Jeffrey, I have always been proud to call Jim Acosta a colleague and a friend. But just those words, all he said was “let's get back to work.” This is not about him. This is about press freedom and he will go back to work today.
BRIAN STELTER: And look, the criticism of Acosta is always that he's too aggressive. He's a showboat. That's what you hear on Fox News, that he grandstands. You saw Jim Acosta very simply saying he wants to get back to work. Look, there's a lot to cover at this White House. There's a lot to cover in the Trump presidency. We need to have reporters on the front lawn covering these stories every day, including Jim Acosta.
So, it's an important moment for press freedom in the U.S. because this entire case is a test of the rights that we have in America for coverage of the White House, for coverage of politicians. And even reporters in other states, covering state houses, who cover city councils, they're watching this, too, because a tone always gets set from the top. The President's attacks on the press are endless, but today the institutions worked. The courts ruled in the favor of the free press. And of course, as Jessica was saying, limited ruling, but it waw an important first round.
JEFFREY TOOBIN: And what was so striking about this was the unanimity of the press corps. Everyone from the New York Times to Fox News itself saying this is not right, what happened to Jim Acosta.
HARLOW: Because they know it could be them.
TOOBIN: That's right. One way of looking at what Jim Acosta was accused of doing was being too aggressive with follow-up questions. Another word for that is journalism.
HARLOW: There you go.
TOOBIN: And if that results in losing your ability to do your livelihood, throwing you out of the press corps, that's a threat to everyone who covers — as Brian said, not just the White House, but state houses and city halls.
JIM SCIUTTO: Think of the precedent. I said this on the air the other day. The only other personal experience I had of this was in China, where China rejected and overturned and took away press credentials because they didn't like the questions asked or the coverage of the stories. I'm not saying the U.S. Is China. I'll just saying there is a commonality there.
HARLOW: You don't want to get even close to that.
STELTER: There's a lot to protect about the American experiment. This is part of it. CNN issued a statement, both CNN and it Acosta. I’ll read it to you. It says, “We're gratified with this ruling and the result and look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN but a free, strong, and independent press.”