CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s latest report has been labeled “idiotic” and a “‘so what?’ moment” by critics who feel it’s simply the liberal network’s latest attempt to weaponize coronavirus against President Trump.
Acosta’s story headlined, “Source: Trump is concerned about coming into contact with people infected with coronavirus,” cited a single source “close to” the president who said Trump is uneasy after coming into contact with a Brazilian official who tested positive for coronavirus.
“This is the most idiotic thing I've seen all week. And this week that's saying something,” Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News. “Of course, ‘Trump is concerned about coming into contact with people infected with coronavirus.’ We all are. And we're all supposed to be. That's how you stop a virus, by being concerned about who you interact with and taking precautions.”
The O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported Thursday that Fabio Wajngarten, who met with President Trump in Mar-A-Lago on Saturday, tested positive for the virus early Wednesday. Health officials confirmed the diagnosis.
“That CNN and its White House correspondent want to make a big deal out of a normal concern is just more indication of their wide-ranging agenda to pester the Trump administration."
Trump has downplayed the incident publicly, telling reporters that he isn’t concerned and attempting to keep panic and hysteria to a minimum. But the 73-year-old president who is a known germaphobe may have told someone close to him that he’s actually a tad apprehensive, according to Acosta.
"He is very concerned about all the people he met who have it, including the Brazilian," an anonymous source told the CNN reporter.
The anonymous source didn’t mention whether or not Trump is concerned for himself, or for the people exposed, only that he was concerned in general.
The remainder of Acosta’s report was essentially background on the status of the Brazilian president and other elected officials, but CNN managed to milk the one anonymous quote for as long as possible. Acosta also reported his scoop on-air throughout the day, including a segment during Anderson Cooper’s “AC360.”
“I know Jim Acosta hates Trump. But this is even stupid for one of the most ridiculous figures in the history of journalism. What's amazing is Acosta isn't even good at trolling Trump. All he does is embarrass CNN and further degrade the news industry,” Gainor said. “CNN is trying to hurt Trump and divide our country in a time of national crisis.”
"CNN is trying to hurt Trump and divide our country in a time of national crisis.”
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that Acosta’s story “clearly falls into the category of ‘this is not news’” and simply the latest example of CNN’s anti-Trump business model.
“That CNN and it's White House correspondent want to make a big deal out of a normal concern is just more indication of their wide-ranging agenda to pester the Trump administration,” McCall told Fox News.
“Any sensible person would prefer to avoid the virus, so reporting that Trump is concerned is really a ‘so what?’ moment journalistically,” McCall said. “Using an unnamed source to leak this story when there are plenty of on-the-record sources available to the media to discuss the matter is also curious. Given the many other important aspects of the COVID-19 situation that need attention, this comes off as a real journalistic tangent and waste of time.”
Gainor’s colleague, MRC director Tom Graham, joked that the alternative headline could have been, “EVERYONE is concerned about coming into contact with people infected with coronavirus.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier in the week, conservative critics called Acosta a hypocrite when he declared that Trump’s Oval Office address on the coronavirus crisis could be seen as “smacking of xenophobia,” as both he and his network have also used terms labeling the virus's origin.
Fox News’ Lucia I. Suarez Sang contributed to this report