CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s star has risen significantly this year thanks to his constant battles with the Trump administration. Although the top brass at the network seems pleased with his efforts, one senior official told Politico that there is “grumbling” in the newsroom over his reporting.
From CNN’s vantage point, Acosta is standing up to a bully—both for a network that has been under attack by Trump and those who feel disenfranchised in the president’s America. But there is also a view inside the network’s newsroom that Acosta has been given the latitude, perhaps even the implicit assignment, to turn the briefing room into a personal editorial page because it is good television and reaffirms CNN’s integral role in the ongoing drama. “There’s some grumbling in the rank-and-file that this isn’t straight news,” said a senior person in the network’s newsroom. “But the higher up you go, the more people like what Jim’s doing or he wouldn’t be doing it.”
Even former and current White House reporters who support Acosta weren’t sure what he was accomplishing by being so aggressive according to Politico.
They praised Acosta as a news gatherer and a genial colleague—“He’s a guy you like to have a beer with,” one said—but also wondered what he had accomplished with his aggressive posturing. “You can just see Trump and Steve Bannon reveling in watching Jim snap back to Miller,” said Jim Warren, the Poynter Institute’s chief media critic and a former White House reporter for the New York Daily News. “And you can bet Jeff Zucker did, too.” For the record, I asked Bannon whether Acosta was playing into the administration’s hands, he texted one word: “Yes!!!!!!!”
But that was then, With the departure of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in August — with whom he had some of his biggest battles and the administration’s pivoting away from labeling CNN as fake news on a regular basis, the air has gone out of Acosta’s balloon, leaving him to try and report the news, rather than be the news.