President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
On any given day of the week, Jim Acosta has shown he has no problems whatsoever with making a complete horse’s behind of himself on national TV if need be – if it can get him some sweet RTs and an outpouring of sympathy and/or backpats from the White House press corps.
Today was no different as CNN’s chief White House correspondent came armed with the same “gotcha” questions he’s asked of the Trump administration all week. It’s been some variation of “how could you have not seen this coming?” and “why did you lull Americans into a false sense of security?” Apparently Acosta believes that if he asks the same question differently five different times that he’s going to get the response he was looking for.
Not surprisingly, Acosta tried asking the question in a different way at today’s White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing when he inquired as to “who dropped the ball” after saying Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar warned of a pandemic of this magnitude a year ago.
After Trump noted Azar’s concerns were based on a “concept” and not anything specific, and after Azar himself corrected Acosta’s misstatement, coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx stepped in to give her take. She noted that the time for recriminations about who knew what and when were for later, but that for now we needed to focus on what to do going forward.
But to clarify a few things, Birx reminded Acosta that the World Health Organization was telling people in early February that travel bans were not necessary, and that we didn’t know until mid January that there was human-to-human transmission of the virus thanks to China’s dishonesty.
But before she could finish her answer, Acosta interrupted Birx to claim that Trump stated that virus would “go away in April.” Trump, standing off to the side, tried to counter him but Acosta repeated the claim. At that point, Trump stepped back to the podium to let Acosta know that his time in the spotlight was over for the day:
After Dr. Birx defends Trump's handling of the coronavirus, @Acosta points out that "the president was saying this is going to go away."
"I said it's going away. And it is going away," Trump retorts. pic.twitter.com/4DTN0GfBbv
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 3, 2020
A lot of folks took note of how Acosta cut Birx off before she could finish speaking, and called him out:
.@Acosta just tried to mansplain to Dr. Birx
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) April 3, 2020
Dr. Birx tries to shift the media from the blame game to asking about what we can do, globally, to stop the spread. She notes that @WHO said Feb. 3 there was no need for a travel ban. @Acosta interrupts her, then tries to "mansplain" that Trump said the problem would go away. SMH
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) April 3, 2020
.@Acosta fighting with POTUS over the early days of an unprecedented global pandemic for Twitter clicks is just tragic. In one of the most coveted seats in journalism, the White House, Acosta has asked the exact same stupid question for a solid week.
— Ellie Bufkin (@ellie_bufkin) April 3, 2020
Jim Acosta's interruption of Dr. Birx is an example of how CNN's echo-journalism model is destroying the media's credibility. Every question from Acosta is an effort to score points rather than elicit information. It is a press pandemic that continues to rage without relief.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) April 3, 2020
These perhaps were the most important takeaways of the exchange:
Of course Acosta interrupted Birx as she was making an interesting comment about WHO.
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) April 3, 2020
This dumb shit Jim Acosta seeing Dr.Birx is saying something important that he knows contradicts his shit network’s narrative so he just interrupts her so she can’t finish. @CNN #jimacosta https://t.co/VybGsKXkB1
— Gary (@GarySchlager) April 3, 2020
Birx was rightly going off on the WHO and Acosta just couldn't let that happen.
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) April 3, 2020
Yep. Can’t let the real truth about China and the WHO get out there.