On Tuesday, HarperCollins released The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America. Written by CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, the book focuses on his own experience covering the Trump White House. He describes the “explosive, first-hand account of the dangers he faces” while trying to pursue the truth “as the President’s most hated correspondent,” according to the book’s marketing material.
Although Acosta’s experience is unique as “public enemy number one” in “Trump’s campaign against what he calls ‘Fake News,’” the larger point is that Trump has created serious risks for all journalists who dare cover him in a professional and responsible manner. This, in turn, has led to an even greater peril, which is trouble for all Americans who seek and deserve the truth. In August 2018, Acosta went on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show to declare that journalists are not what Trump has called “the enemy of the people,” as well as the “disgusting news media,” the “dishonest news media,” “liars,” “scum,” “thieves,” and more. Acosta asked the rhetorical question, “Are we supposed to do the news and not fact-check the President when he is obviously just telling whoppers, one after another?”
Last Thursday, Fox News host Laura Ingraham appeared to take a rare step in the right direction. After airing her pre-recorded interview with Trump, she called him out to viewers for incorrectly claiming that his interview was the reason that a D-Day ceremony was delayed. According to Ingraham, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived late, and she ended her interview before Macron’s helicopter landed. In what seemed to be a rare act of defiance against Trump, Ingraham told viewers, “That is patently false. Fake news.”
Although Ingraham is right to point this out, her statement was aimed more at defending herself and her network against a particular charge (of holding up the ceremony) than at standing up for the truth no matter who happens to be affected by a Trump lie. In other words, Ingraham apparently did the right thing for the wrong reason. Journalists of all political leanings need to stick together, stand up to every President, and show loyalty only to the truth. Acosta put it bluntly when speaking to Anderson Cooper about his book on Monday: “To our friends in conservative media, Anderson, I say this: it is no guarantee that you get to stay in power forever.”