CNN has branded itself as savagely, incessantly anti-Trump, as well as savagely, incessantly anti-Fox News. So why on Earth do they expect that when the president mocks CNN at a press conference, "unity" demands that Fox defend CNN in the moment of the insult?
This is especially true of Brian Stelter, whose boss Jeff Zucker has ordered the network's attack on Fox as "state-run TV." But then, Stelter is shameless enough to tell Kellyanne Conway to her face "I'm not on a side of an aisle." In his Friday night "Reliable Sources" newsletter, Stelter listed his concerns:
3. What should John Roberts have done?
After turning down Acosta, Trump called on the reporter next to him, Fox News' John Roberts. "Real news," Trump said, undercutting CNN and promoting Fox at the same time.
Right then -- in the moment -- Roberts had a chance to reject Trump's cynical attacks on the press. Roberts used to work at CNN. He could have said, "Mr. President, that's unfair to CNN." Or "Mr. President, none of my colleagues are fake." Or "Mr. President, you know better than this." He could have even passed the mic to Acosta. [!!]
But he didn't. He moved on and asked his own question. Many journalists expressed disappointment via social media. CNN's Jake Tapper tweeted that he is "old enough to remember when other networks came to the defense of Fox News WH correspondents during the Obama years. Such did not happen here. Lesson for the kids out there: no one should ever try to do the right thing with the expectation it will ever be reciprocated."
When other media outlets have defended Fox is normally a question of access, as in pool events. It wasn't expected that other reporters would defend Fox in front of President Obama. Fox's questions to Obama didn't have Jim Acosta's angry and desperate tone, and Obama didn't normally attack reporters during press conferences.
Jake Tapper is really not the person who should fuss about letting insults go on TV. He famously let Nancy Pelosi suggest Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was a bad choice "if you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine." In another town hall after the Parkland school shooting, allowed an obnoxious child to compare Sen. Marco Rubio to Nikolas Cruz, who shot 17 people dead.
Jim Acosta isn't more honorable than Gorsuch or Rubio. Stelter continued by asking Fox's later defense wasn't enough:
4. Too little, too late
Later in the day, Roberts sorta spoke up in CNN's defense, saying there are "some fine journalists" at the network. His statement notably praised Welker, saying, "She is honest as the day is long," but did not name or support Acosta in any way. CNN PR exec Matt Dornic called him out for that via Twitter: "Nice try, @johnrobertsFox. Your omission is glaring and your compliment backhanded. Next time try and show some class in the moment. And in your statement."
I'd still like to see Roberts address the broader topic, i.e., what to do when a president insults your competitors and then calls on you instead... There are spats between CNN and Fox all the time, but on this subject, there should be unity...
"Unity." Liberal media are routinely unified in attacking Fox as not a real-news network. CNN defends Acosta even when he says Trump's fake-news insults are dangerous because "people around the country" who "don’t have all their faculties in some cases — their elevator might not hit all floors."
PS: Stelter's Friday-night newsletter also carried this history-mangling claim:
Harry Litman writes in this new CNN.com op-ed. "A meticulously detailed complaint lays it out: Members of an enemy army engaged in a coordinated criminal enterprise to secretly sabotage an American presidential election. The attacks were sustained, professional and largely successful. It would appear to be the most nefarious attack by a foreign government on the United States since Pearl Harbor." [Emphasis mine]
The "government" line apparently excludes a comparison to 9/11. But how about the Soviets shooting down Americans, as in Korean Air Lines 007? They don't really care about accuracy. They only care about...resistance.