The White House Attack on Jim Acosta Is Vile

[Content Note: Authoritarianism; misogyny.]

Yesterday, during Donald Trump's post-midterms press conference, CNN's Jim Acosta, who has been a regular target of Trump's ire, was dismissed and scolded by Trump when he asked about Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation and questioned Trump's incendiary language about the migrant caravan headed toward the southern border.

Trump sneered at Acosta: "That's enough. That's enough. That's enough. That's enough. That's enough. Put down the mic. CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn't be working for CNN. You're a very rude person."

Acosta continued to try to ask his questions, as is his job, and a White House aide, a young woman, was sent over to him to try to grab the microphone away from him. He held onto it, persisting as Trump shouted at him that he'd had enough.

Later in the day, the White House announced that it was suspending Acosta's press pass "until further notice." In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said he would be stripped of his "hard pass," which grants access to the White House grounds.

Sanders defended the decision by accusing Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern," which she added was "absolutely unacceptable."

This was, to be clear, an outright lie. The video clearly shows that Acosta did not "place his hands" on the woman who was trying to rip the microphone away from him, casting furtive glances at Trump the entire time she was doing it.

At one point, Acosta's hand does come in contact with her arm, but only because he was trying to get away from her as she was grabbing at the mic. It is clearly a defensive and accidental contact.

Sanders, however, was determined to make the case that Acosta assaulted the young woman, so she deployed doctored video, slowed down in that section, to make it appear as though Acosta is making a downward "chopping" motion.

The White House had this accusation and the doctored video ready to go alarmingly quickly — and as Leah McElrath noted on Twitter, "Within moments of Acosta asking his question at the presser this morning, hundreds of accounts began spamming multiple hashtags accusing him of assault."

The White House was quite evidently trying to set up Jim Acosta to accuse him of assault. When he didn't respond as anticipated (by a bunch of abusive men), they resorted to using doctored video to try to make it look like an assault.

Note that part of this plan was using a woman with the hope she'd be assaulted.

And we haven't heard anything from her.

The White House has asserted on multiple occasions (Trump, Corey Lewandowski, Rob Porter, Roy Moore, Brett Kavanaugh) that women who accuse men of assault are liars, being used by Democrats for political purposes. That's rank projection. Here they are, doing precisely what they accuse Democrats of doing.

(Also note that the "assault" the White House is saying Acosta made on their aide is almost exactly what Donald Trump actually did to reporter Alexi McCammond along the campaign trail in 2016.)

This was clearly a set-up. And it should terrify and enrage all of us that the White House is engaging in this sort of manipulation, propaganda, and personal attacks on journalists as the president's war on the free press continues to escalate.

And fuck everyone who is calling this "a distraction." This isn't a distraction. This is what life looks like under an authoritarian regime, and we had better damn well be paying attention.

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