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MIKE MASTERSON: Acosta's tantrum

by Mike Masterson | November 20, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

I was surprised when U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly determined CNN's Jim Acosta should have his withdrawn White House press credentials restored after throwing one of the most unprofessional, disrespectful and arrogant hissy fits I've ever seen from any journalist, much less such childishness aimed at a president in our White House briefing room.

Of course, we have First Amendment rights to cover and report the news of the day. To me, First Amendment rights weren't at question here. The real question is: Do I have a right to be flagrantly juvenile and rude to any president during a press conference when he already has answered two of my questions as colleagues wait to ask theirs? And refuse to surrender the microphone as President Donald Trump directs him?

Acosta's employer, CNN, also never lost the option of assigning another more professional adult to cover these conferences, right?

This was a formal press conference called by the president who was prepared to answer questions from an assortment of journalists, not one know-it-all. You'd think his colleagues would have resented how the loud-mouthed Acosta so blatantly monopolized time also meant for their questions.

Over the years I've asked tough questions at press conferences across the nation without the need to be insolent or disrespectful to the person at the podium. So in one federal judge's opinion is it now acceptable for all White House reporters to behave in such a childish and offensive way at White House press conferences? Is Acosta's grossly partisan, attack-dog style the new norm? Civility and manners be damned?

With Acosta's White House credentials restored, the president can choose to eliminate press conferences, get rid of cameras in the room altogether, or ignore Acosta and his predictably self-aggrandizing outbursts. Trump is now developing rules for proper decorum at his future conferences, adding he will walk out if they aren't followed. Don't blame him. So would I.

Acosta's colleagues can thank his behavior for having those new stricter standards also imposed on them.

Beltway fairy tale

Heard about the candidate for Congress respected for her integrity and idealism? Once upon a time, she campaigned in her state against the entrenched swamp creatures of the beltway, pledging positive reforms in the corrupt system permeating our nation's capital.

Despite hefty campaign contributions from those seeking influence, the lady remained admirably intent on following her convictions and the majority sentiments of her constituents who were demanding reforms that create a method of governing honorably "of, by and for the people." In other words, to serve as a metaphorical drop of disinfecting bleach.

Elected to office on those beliefs and promises, she arrived on Capitol Hill to be greeted by a veteran gang from her political party. They took her aside over a $40 lunch and martinis to explain realities in the swamp.

The congresswoman wound up with her desired committee appointments, the support of her party and its agendas, along with the luncheon spiel recited to all new arrivals also elected in large measure because of personal appeal and promises back home.

Her "orientation" went something like this: "Now that we have given you what you desired, along with the opportunity to enrich yourself like those of us who've been here a while (incidentally, the longer you're here, the better you'll like it) we have a few expectations.

"Being the intelligent, fair-minded sort everyone here knows you to be, it's your turn to give us what we want in return, including the bloc votes we will need to benefit our party.

"That's only fair and reasonable, right? After all, this process isn't a one-way street serving only what you want, right? Our party has to stay united to preserve power together and resist above all else. Otherwise, we all will lose together, right?"

She recoiled at first, remembering those campaign pledges to put the people's needs first and her earnest desire to improve life for all citizens in the most responsible way, rather than voting to ensure her party could gain and retain power.

"After all," she thought, "don't I represent my constituents from every political party now that I've gained this position of trust? And what about my convictions and those vows I made to get elected?"

As promised, things eventually did become beneficial for her personally, from her influence on the Hill to gaining personal wealth from obliging lobbyists, as she rose in seniority while dutifully voting as instructed. Soon, other newcomer representatives filled with ideals arrived. And their indoctrination began.

Lo and behold, these arriving drops of purifying bleach as hers once had been were absorbed into the black tub of toxic beltway muck and absorbed by the goal of securing and holding political power.

As for the 330 million who depended upon those they elect to serve their overall best interests and those of the country? Well, their nation continued in constant division and gridlock as the overriding beat of "resistance and obstruction" drummed on. The end.

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 11/20/2018

Print Headline: Acosta's tantrum

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