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Congratulations, American Press. You Just Got Played. Again.

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 8, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 8, 2018 |


On Tuesday night (and well into Wednesday morning), the Democrats added 34 House Seats (and counting), flipped 330 state legislative seats, added 7 Governorships, and won the “popular vote” (whatever that means in this context) by what looks to be about 8 million votes. Yesterday, Donald Trump fired his Attorney General and installed a loyalist hostile to the Mueller probe to oversee the special counsel. Trump also repeatedly lost his temper during a press conference and lashed out at a number of reporters. Early this morning, a man walked into a dance club in Los Angeles and killed 12 people including a sheriff’s deputy before taking his own life.

And last night and well into this morning, what has been the major topic of conversation online?

Jim Acosta.

After a very testy and heated exchange during the press conference yesterday, Donald Trump called Jim Acosta rude, suggested he should be fired, etc., etc. I’m sure you’ve seen the video.

Because of what transpired in that video, Trump pulled Jim Acosta’s hard pass until further notice. Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that it was basically because he assaulted a White House intern.

She even posted video this morning doctored by Infowars to make it look more “violent” than it was.

Infowars, by the way, is run by Alex Jones, who literally yells at turds.

Now, granted, I follow a lot of people in the media — the very people who produce most of the news we read — but my entire Twitter timeline this morning is filled with conversations about this incident. People calling Sarah Huckabee Sanders a liar. People defending Jim Acosta. People expressing outrage over what happened. People calling this an attack on the First Amendment and the free press.

But in spite of clear evidence to the contrary, there are those within Trump’s base alleging that it was assault, that Acosta deserved to have his pass pulled, and that liberals are hypocrites.

The point here is not whether Jim Acosta deserves to have his access pulled or whether he assaulted anyone. It is obvious that he does not, and it is obvious that he did not. The point is, this is the conversation we are having right now. The debate is not how we’re going to prevent Mueller from being fired. It’s not about the Democrats trouncing the Republicans in the midterms. It’s not about Jeff Sessions. The conversation is not about how women changed the landscape in the House. It’s also not about gun control (or it is, but that conversation will fade by noon today, as social media moves back to Jim Acosta).

The debate on social media this morning is about whether Jim Acosta assaulted a White House intern, though everyone knows the answer to that question. This is exactly what Jon Stewart was talking about last week.

“[The media] takes it personally, they are personally wounded and offended by this man. He baits them and they dive in and what he’s done well, I thought, is the appeal to their own narcissism, to their own ego. They take it personally, and now he’s changed the conversation to not that his policies are silly or not working or any of those other things. It’s all about the fight. He’s able to tune out everything else and get people focused on just the fight.”

Congratulations, American press. You just got played. Again.

Look: I think Jim Acosta is amazing, and I love what he did. Several reporters during that press conference pushed back against Trump, as though they smelled blood in the water and went on the attack. Trump looked like a weak, petty man lashing out at the press over his losses.

But also, that shouldn’t be the story. The story today should be about the massive victories of the Democrats, but also whether Nancy Pelosi is going to do anything with that power (or whether she should even be in that position anymore). The story should be about the people affected by this Administration, and I’m not talking about yet another piece about Trump country. Go talk to people in Atlanta who had to stand in line for four hours and still didn’t have their votes registered. Talk to some trans folks who no longer feel safe in the small towns. Someone figure out why there are voting discrepancies in Florida. Talk to people along the Mexican border — who fairly overwhelmingly voted blue — about how they feel about migrants. Someone go find out why Fox News stopped talking about that caravan all of a sudden.

Jim Acosta is a bulldog, and one of the best there is among the White House Press Corp. But this story isn’t about him. Or it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be about the “fight” that Trump wants us to be having. It should be about the fight that Trump doesn’t want us to have. Stop looking at the hand he’s holding in front of you, and start paying attention to the hand that’s picking America’s pockets.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty