The frustrations of being a White House correspondent in the Donald Trump era are such that they seem to more than offset any glamour associated with the job.
CNN’s Jim Acosta gave a perfect example of the type of exasperation that these journalists — trying to get their stories in the daily grind of covering a dysfunctional and chaotic White House — are forced to face, during the press briefing offered today by Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Acosta asked what was a perfectly reasonable question after a weekend in which anonymous Trump administration officials began circulating what amounted to political opposition research on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the top epidemiologist in the federal government.
The disturbing behind the scenes attacks on the man who has been brave enough to counter Donald Trump’s constant dissemination of misinformation and overly-optimistic pipe dreams about the COVID-19 pandemic with actual scientific facts come after it was learned that the administration had been attempting to sideline Dr. Fauci whose favorability and trustworthiness ratings far exceed that of the president himself during this national health crisis.
The CNN correspondent wondered why the White House — which has been trying to crack down on the continuous flow of embarrassing leaks from anonymous insiders since the beginning of Trump’s administration and has recently been revealed to be setting traps to catch them — would use that same deplored tactic to attack the credibility of the one man in the administration who actually has any when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Press Secretary’s answer to Acosta’s motivational probing left the primary question unanswered but told us everything we have to know — which in McEnany’s eyes consists of the delusion that Trump has done a bang-up job of handling the COVID-19 pandemic despite the 137 thousand fatalities in this country.
You can watch the exchange below, but note that the post description in the tweet misquotes McEnany. What she actually says in the video is that Trump noted that Dr. Fauci had made mistakes, not an unprecedented admission of fallibility on the president’s part.
Asked about Russian bounties, McEnany bends over backward to avoid directly rebuking the Kremlin pic.twitter.com/sIqqycCfEN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 13, 2020
It’s amazing that after the completely unsatisfactory response to his first question, Acosta keeps on trying to squeeze some truth from the fact-free lips of the press secretary, pressing her on whether Trump will ever get around to telling the Kremlin that they shouldn’t go around paying the Taliban exorbitant sums to kill American armed forces.
McEnany’s response — essentially that “all countries matter” and that the United States regularly informs every diplomatic contact in every nation that they shouldn’t be paying to kill our soldiers — conveniently denies the veracity of the intelligence information and lets Russia off the hook so that Donnie and Vladdy can keep playing together in harmony.
One has to pity Acosta and every other White House correspondent. Their job seeking the truth from this particular White House is akin to trying to find the exit in a hall of mirrors.
The entire design of the hall is constructed to lead you to smash your face into a mere illusion of reality no matter which way you turn and make it feel like you’ll never find your way out.
Luckily, American voters can smash the mirrors and extricate our journalistic proxies from their current dilemma in November. Let’s hope that they do so.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.