Trump Bans Acosta: Remembering Obama "Pressed" Out Helen Thomas
The mainstream media is making a big fuss out of “journalist” Jim Acosta’s loss of his White House press credential after he appeared aggressive with a white house staff member. The media is collectively claiming a version of the incident going around social media is “doctored”, making Acosta’s behavior seem more extreme. Acosta is CNN's Chief White House Correspondent who’s press pass has been suspended "until further notice" just hours after he engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with President Trump.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Acosta's tweet in a statement, claiming the suspension of his press credentials stemmed from his "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern." She called the behavior "absolutely unacceptable."
This contentious relationship between the press and sitting presidents is nothing new though. The last president really set the precedence for putting reporters in their place at White House press briefings: Barack Obama.
Obama recently said that the current president's penchant for slamming media critical of him as "fake news" and the "enemy of the people" is un-democratic and un-American. But Obama was not one to put up with pushy journalists asking tough questions and was considered to have a dismal record on press freedom and access.
Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter James Risen wrote in The New York Times that if Trump wants to use the FBI to spy on journalists, he got the playbook from his predecessor.
Obama, who campaigned on a promise to protect government whistle-blowers, made greater use of the Espionage Act to menace journalists than all other presidents combined.
President Obama famously scolded a journalist shortly before stepping down as President, this for shouting out a question — at a press conference — about illegal immigration from Central America.
“I appreciate you shouting out a question, since I’m sure there are a lot of colleagues of yours who would like to do the same,” Mr. Obama aggressively told the reporter.
Obama’s White House released this statement afterwards:
In the rearview mirror of the mainstream press, Helen Thomas is perhaps the most famous White house journalist ever “banned” or more specifically pressured out by a president.
She was called the grand dame of the White House press corps, who outlasted nine American presidential administrations. She was forced to halt her determined, opinion-laden questioning into her retirement, because of pressure from the Obama administration, for what was considered anti-semitic remarks. The specific reason for her forced retirement was because she told a rabbi that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany.
Although President Obama declared himself a fan, Thomas sharply criticized Obama’s control of the media shortly after he took office. She slammed Obama’s then-press secretary Robert Gibbs for the administration’s close management of the press and for planting prepackaged questions for the president.
“The point is the control from here. We have never had that in the White House. And we have had some control but not this control. I mean I’m amazed, I’m amazed at you people who call for openness and transparency and have controlled…” Thomas said.
And while Helen Thomas was indeed a hard-nosed journalist with tough questions, she was a class act compared to the attention seeking antics of Jim Acosta. He doesn’t ask questions — he makes accusations and argues. Almost daily, he does it with the press secretary; Wednesday, he decided to do it with the president. Now he is banned from the White House.