Jim Acosta. His name may go down in infamy. Or irony. Or laughter.
This is a case of classic cognitive dissonance.
In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the psychological stress experienced by a person when their belief clashes with evidence. When confronted with facts, data, or occurrences that contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values, some people will find a way besides accepting the insurmountable nature of the facts to reduce their discomfort.
In other words, when ignoring the obvious some people will turn to fake news. This usually happens when a person can’t get ideas that are false to work in the real world. We are not just talking about opinion, we are talking about actual factual occurrence sometimes captured on video.
Since we are playing in the field of psychology today, let’s go back and look at a past incident to move forward. Caution … there may be material that triggers trauma in our Acosta vs. Trump recap.
Jim Acosta pulled the president into a classic tit for tat over the “migrant caravan” of people headed for the U.S./Mexico border. The exchange of barbs (instead of questions) escalated. Finally, the exasperated 45 exclaimed, “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump told Acosta.
Unfazed Acosta continued to speak, making multiple statements even though another reporter was chosen to ask questions. He refused to stop talking, despite being told to stop by the president. A White House intern was sent to retrieve the microphone and what appeared to be a physical clash ensued.
Let’s bring some common sense to the interaction. Most of us know that you can not address the POTUS as a peer. Most of us are clear that high office in the United States should always be approached with respect. But people like Acosta refuse to recognize the need to give honor to any officials whom they don’t agree with politically because they operate in entitlement.
Disrespect will not be tolerated by the White House. Acosta behaved his way right into that truth. The reporter had his press pass revoked.
A lawsuit ensued. On Friday, Nov. 16, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly temporarily restored Acosta’s credential. Mainstream media outlets declared huge victory for Acosta and CNN.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
First, the ruling also declared that the White House does not have to have press conferences at all. Then the ruling opened the door to the White House to establish rules for press conferences. Rules that would be the rationale to revoke press passes.
Plus, the ruling did not address the First Amendment at all. Anyone with clarity could see that the ruling was an instruction to the White House on how to shut out reporters without being accused of being arbitrary — anyone except those who support acting like a fool toward the leader of the free world because of political disagreement.
Last week the White House presented their rules regarding press conferences.
(1) A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;
(2) At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;
(3) “Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;
(4) Failure to abide by any of rules (1)-(3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.
Now the same media outlets that declared victory Friday are screaming their heads off. If they had any sense, they would have started yelling protest after the judge’s ruling. These folks lost the battle and the war.
But they didn’t see it. No one talking about the First Amendment today. Reporters have no choice but to act respectfully at White House press conferences. If they don’t their press passes will be revoked.
I can’t stop laughing. Some folks just have cognitive dissonance.
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.