After Latest Trump Clash, Can CNN’s Jim Acosta Still Do His Job?

Donald Trump would probably be delighted if Jim Acosta — the CNN correspondent he called “a terrible person” on Wednesday — stopped covering him. But media experts are split on whether the insult created such a conflict of interest that Acosta should move off the White House beat.

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said to Acosta during a briefing Wednesday. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. The way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

The insult brought vigorous support of Acosta from CNN, but also calls from the right for Acosta to move on. Acosta has repeatedly criticized Trump officials, including spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and taken Trump to task for calling the news media, including CNN, the “enemy of the people.”

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“If Acosta’s job is to be an objective journalist, he’s terrible at it. If it’s to make headlines about Jim Acosta, he’s terrific at it,” Daily Wire founder and editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro told TheWrap. “Of course CNN should replace him — he has not elicited a productive answer from the White House in months, he’s lending credence to the chief criticisms of CNN, and he’s reveling in the attention he receives.”

In a statement, CNN said Acosta isn’t going anywhere.

“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” the network said in a statement.
“While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”

Wednesday’s clash came as Acosta pressed Trump about the so-called migrant caravan, challenging the president’s assertion that it is “an invasion” of the United States.

Trump told Acosta: “I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”

Acosta tried to ask a follow-up question as a White House aide tried to take away the microphone. Trump chided Acosta: “That’s enough.”

The president then added: “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”

When NBC’s Peter Alexander began a question by defending Acosta as a “diligent reporter,” Trump replied, “I’m not a big fan of yours, either.”

Playboy columnist Art Tavana said the clash between Trump and Acosta resulted from both Acosta’s “self-aggrandizing activism” and Trump’s “Hindenburg-sized ego,” which “won’t allow him a moment of humility to conduct himself in a presidential manner and quiet the ‘fake news’ twaddle.”

Tavana said the White House press corps would benefit from “more moderate conservatives and levelheaded liberals”  in its ranks.

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But Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, said Acosta was doing exactly what journalists should do.

“Of course, he can still do his job. In that clip he is doing his job,” Jarvis told TheWrap. “That’s called reporting. I wish we saw a hell of a lot more of it.”

New York University journalism professor Mitchell Stephens said Acosta “performed a service” and should be commended.

“In trying to do his job, which is to ask sometimes difficult questions of whomever is president, he has exposed the level of hostility, evasion and dissembling to which the current president can descend,” Stephens said.

President Trump arguing with CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday at the White House (via Getty Images)

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In June, Acosta pressed the president several times on whether he’d stop calling the media “the enemy of the people.” Trump has blasted Acosta and CNN on multiple occasions as “fake news.”  Acosta called Trump “a dishonest, deceptive person” at a CNN panel discussion in New York last month. He has also called out Sarah Huckabee Sanders on multiple occasions, saying the White House press secretary doesn’t always “state the facts.” 

“I wouldn’t put productive and a Sarah Sanders briefing in the same sentence,” Acosta said at the CNN panel event last month.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Trump Trashes CNN’s Jim Acosta to His Face: ‘You Are a Rude, Terrible Person’ (Video)

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CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta Rips Trump as ‘Dishonest, Deceptive Person’

Donald Trump would probably be delighted if Jim Acosta — the CNN correspondent he called “a terrible person” on Wednesday — stopped covering him. But media experts are split on whether the insult created such a conflict of interest that Acosta should move off the White House beat.

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said to Acosta during a briefing Wednesday. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. The way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

The insult brought vigorous support of Acosta from CNN, but also calls from the right for Acosta to move on. Acosta has repeatedly criticized Trump officials, including spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and taken Trump to task for calling the news media, including CNN, the “enemy of the people.”

“If Acosta’s job is to be an objective journalist, he’s terrible at it. If it’s to make headlines about Jim Acosta, he’s terrific at it,” Daily Wire founder and editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro told TheWrap. “Of course CNN should replace him — he has not elicited a productive answer from the White House in months, he’s lending credence to the chief criticisms of CNN, and he’s reveling in the attention he receives.”

In a statement, CNN said Acosta isn’t going anywhere.

“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” the network said in a statement.
“While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”

Wednesday’s clash came as Acosta pressed Trump about the so-called migrant caravan, challenging the president’s assertion that it is “an invasion” of the United States.

Trump told Acosta: “I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”

Acosta tried to ask a follow-up question as a White House aide tried to take away the microphone. Trump chided Acosta: “That’s enough.”

The president then added: “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”

When NBC’s Peter Alexander began a question by defending Acosta as a “diligent reporter,” Trump replied, “I’m not a big fan of yours, either.”

Playboy columnist Art Tavana said the clash between Trump and Acosta resulted from both Acosta’s “self-aggrandizing activism” and Trump’s “Hindenburg-sized ego,” which “won’t allow him a moment of humility to conduct himself in a presidential manner and quiet the ‘fake news’ twaddle.”

Tavana said the White House press corps would benefit from “more moderate conservatives and levelheaded liberals”  in its ranks.

But Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, said Acosta was doing exactly what journalists should do.

“Of course, he can still do his job. In that clip he is doing his job,” Jarvis told TheWrap. “That’s called reporting. I wish we saw a hell of a lot more of it.”

New York University journalism professor Mitchell Stephens said Acosta “performed a service” and should be commended.

“In trying to do his job, which is to ask sometimes difficult questions of whomever is president, he has exposed the level of hostility, evasion and dissembling to which the current president can descend,” Stephens said.

President Trump arguing with CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday at the White House (via Getty Images)

In June, Acosta pressed the president several times on whether he’d stop calling the media “the enemy of the people.” Trump has blasted Acosta and CNN on multiple occasions as “fake news.”  Acosta called Trump “a dishonest, deceptive person” at a CNN panel discussion in New York last month. He has also called out Sarah Huckabee Sanders on multiple occasions, saying the White House press secretary doesn’t always “state the facts.” 

“I wouldn’t put productive and a Sarah Sanders briefing in the same sentence,” Acosta said at the CNN panel event last month.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Trump Trashes CNN's Jim Acosta to His Face: 'You Are a Rude, Terrible Person' (Video)

CNN's Jim Acosta Posts Video of Trump Fan Apologizing to Him

CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta Rips Trump as 'Dishonest, Deceptive Person'

What’s the Cure for Ailing Mashable, BuzzFeed and Other Online News Sites?

The news this week that Mashable would lay off 50 employees in the wake of a fire sale to Ziff Davis for $50 million is a sign of the times in digital news.

Just two years ago the company was valued at $250 million and won $15 million in new funding from Time Warner. Now a plunging valuation has become a painfully common affair across the digital space for both small players and industry titans.

Last week, BuzzFeed axed 100 employees and delayed a planned IPO after missing expected 2017 revenues by as much as 20 percent. A traffic drop prompted Mic.com’s much-maligned “pivot to video” — and dozens of layoffs. Vice also missed earnings, but you may have overlooked that story as the company prepared for what is expected to be a brutal piece in the New York Times about the company’s issues with sexual misconduct.

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“Digital media publishers are looking for scale,” said Michael J. Wolf, CEO of Active, Inc., a management consulting firm for tech and media companies. “We’re at a point now where there aren’t many of these companies. You could look at Mashable and say it’s just too small. The other reason these companies need to get larger is because they need to be move their businesses into video.”

Scale, however, is far from the only problem. As a growing number of people consume content from Google and social media, companies like Mashable find themselves in an increasingly untenable situation. As distribution algorithms are constantly tweaked, media shops are left constantly scrambling, playing the role of digital soothsayers to a hostile web.

One former Mashable senior staffer told TheWrap that social media changes took a brutal toll on traffic during his tenure and that the company constantly was left floundering with no real strategy for developing other revenue streams.

Also Read: Mashable Lays Off Staff, Top Editor in Shift to TV

A similar story played out at news website Mic.com.

“It provides an opportunity where people think there is a system to play, a game to play. You start designing stories to play into an algorithm,” said a former senior editorial employee at Mic. “Then you start picking stories based on what will do well on Facebook. People start to focus on that and not the news itself.”

To that end, the company often employed what were known internally as framings, creating formulas like “In One Tweet [Sharable Person] Just [Thing Done].” A small cottage industry of “one tweet” posts were produced to document the pronouncements of author J.K. Rowling.

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Some examples include:

“In One tweet, JK Rowling shaded all the men asking why there’s no ‘Men’s Day’”

“In One Tweet, J.K. Rowling Just Sparked the Most Magical Celebration of Equality Eve”
“One Tweet from J.K. Rowling Perfectly Shuts Down Rupert Murdoch’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric”
“In One Tweet, JK Rowling Tells Mic We’re Wrong”

The dependence on social media has put many outlets in a bind, David Cohn, Senior Director at Advanced Publications, told TheWrap. Media sites can’t ignore Facebook; they need to leverage the social network’s massive platform to funnel readers towards its content. But the money they’re making, in comparison to the gargantuan ad sales Facebook and Google rake in, is negligible. (The duopoly accounts for 85 percent of all internet ad growth, and combined will make more than $100 billion in ad revenue in 2017, according to Mary Meeker’s annual report.)

“That generation — [sites like] NowThis, Circa — it’s a negotiation, and they’re in a weaker hand. And the reason they’re in this pickle is because they don’t have this strong hand to demand strong tools to monetize. Facebook has that upper hand, so Facebook can monetize,” said Cohn.

Also Read: When Digital Media’s ‘Pivot to Video’ Goes Wrong

He pointed to NowThis as a textbook representation of new school media’s symbiotic relationship with Facebook.

“NowThis is really just a content creator for Facebook, that’s the relationship. Facebook is the distributor and NowThis is the studio — not unlike the movie studio and the movie theater,” added Cohn. “The situation we find here is that the distributors, the Facebooks and social platforms, are in a much better position to monetize, and in a much better position to dictate, because they own the product.”

As companies scramble for answers, outlets have increasingly turned to video to maintain their weakened grasp of the audience. But the pivot to video isn’t a surefire panacea. Mark Bonner, former managing editor at International Business Times, recently told TheWrap the strategy was anything but a silver bullet for the company. By adding autoplay clips, IBT aimed to keep eyeballs on the screen longer and, in turn, boost its ad revenue. That didn’t happen.

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“[The pivot to video] was forced on us, and I never got an explanation why, but I can only guess they were looking at the balance sheets and saying ‘this is a fast way for us to make up some gains,’” said Bonner. “It didn’t work, as far as I can tell, because we all got laid off.”

Compounding matters, goals put in place by many of the big money venture capital firms backing these companies has undermined the drive of their editorial teams. An obsession with traffic first, quality journalism second, has stymied the industry. And the impact of VC — and its share of the blame in the media-wide downturn — isn’t lost on those that have seen it firsthand.

“So many of these companies got a lot of VC [venture capital] funding and then at companies, like a BuzzFeed and Mashable, there’s an emphasis on growth. The way to grow is to get hits and the way to get hits is to publish stories that gets hits, not necessarily stories about hard news,” said the former senior Mic employee. “That shifts things away from journalism towards traffic and when you do journalism for traffic rather than for journalism, that takes the sail out of journalists, makes it harder to stay focused, and makes it much more of a business and commodity.”

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So what’s the path forward? Cohn sees more companies turning to a “hybrid” business model — somewhere along the spectrum between BuzzFeed’s obsession with scale, and smaller subscription-based outlets like The Information. At the same time, the million dollar question boils down to how tech and media companies find a working relationship moving forward. The hysteria over social media wiping traditional outlets off the map is overstated, but fostering a more beneficial arrangement for quality content will have to be made.

“In truth, they need each other, and when push comes to shove, these tech giants know that and understand that. You can’t surf Google if no one’s producing content, and it means nothing to share content on Facebook if there isn’t good content being made,” said Cohn. “And there’s only so many cat photos people that people can really share. There has to be substantive stuff.” 

(Disclaimer: TheWrap media editor Jon Levine was formerly a staff writer at Mic).

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Break Media Pivots From Sexy Photos and Prank Videos to Sci-Fi Movie With Lorenzo di Bonaventura

The news this week that Mashable would lay off 50 employees in the wake of a fire sale to Ziff Davis for $50 million is a sign of the times in digital news.

Just two years ago the company was valued at $250 million and won $15 million in new funding from Time Warner. Now a plunging valuation has become a painfully common affair across the digital space for both small players and industry titans.

Last week, BuzzFeed axed 100 employees and delayed a planned IPO after missing expected 2017 revenues by as much as 20 percent. A traffic drop prompted Mic.com’s much-maligned “pivot to video” — and dozens of layoffs. Vice also missed earnings, but you may have overlooked that story as the company prepared for what is expected to be a brutal piece in the New York Times about the company’s issues with sexual misconduct.

“Digital media publishers are looking for scale,” said Michael J. Wolf, CEO of Active, Inc., a management consulting firm for tech and media companies. “We’re at a point now where there aren’t many of these companies. You could look at Mashable and say it’s just too small. The other reason these companies need to get larger is because they need to be move their businesses into video.”

Scale, however, is far from the only problem. As a growing number of people consume content from Google and social media, companies like Mashable find themselves in an increasingly untenable situation. As distribution algorithms are constantly tweaked, media shops are left constantly scrambling, playing the role of digital soothsayers to a hostile web.

One former Mashable senior staffer told TheWrap that social media changes took a brutal toll on traffic during his tenure and that the company constantly was left floundering with no real strategy for developing other revenue streams.

A similar story played out at news website Mic.com.

“It provides an opportunity where people think there is a system to play, a game to play. You start designing stories to play into an algorithm,” said a former senior editorial employee at Mic. “Then you start picking stories based on what will do well on Facebook. People start to focus on that and not the news itself.”

To that end, the company often employed what were known internally as framings, creating formulas like “In One Tweet [Sharable Person] Just [Thing Done].” A small cottage industry of “one tweet” posts were produced to document the pronouncements of author J.K. Rowling.

Some examples include:

“In One tweet, JK Rowling shaded all the men asking why there’s no ‘Men’s Day'”

“In One Tweet, J.K. Rowling Just Sparked the Most Magical Celebration of Equality Eve”
“One Tweet from J.K. Rowling Perfectly Shuts Down Rupert Murdoch’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric”
“In One Tweet, JK Rowling Tells Mic We’re Wrong”

The dependence on social media has put many outlets in a bind, David Cohn, Senior Director at Advanced Publications, told TheWrap. Media sites can’t ignore Facebook; they need to leverage the social network’s massive platform to funnel readers towards its content. But the money they’re making, in comparison to the gargantuan ad sales Facebook and Google rake in, is negligible. (The duopoly accounts for 85 percent of all internet ad growth, and combined will make more than $100 billion in ad revenue in 2017, according to Mary Meeker’s annual report.)

“That generation — [sites like] NowThis, Circa — it’s a negotiation, and they’re in a weaker hand. And the reason they’re in this pickle is because they don’t have this strong hand to demand strong tools to monetize. Facebook has that upper hand, so Facebook can monetize,” said Cohn.

He pointed to NowThis as a textbook representation of new school media’s symbiotic relationship with Facebook.

“NowThis is really just a content creator for Facebook, that’s the relationship. Facebook is the distributor and NowThis is the studio — not unlike the movie studio and the movie theater,” added Cohn. “The situation we find here is that the distributors, the Facebooks and social platforms, are in a much better position to monetize, and in a much better position to dictate, because they own the product.”

As companies scramble for answers, outlets have increasingly turned to video to maintain their weakened grasp of the audience. But the pivot to video isn’t a surefire panacea. Mark Bonner, former managing editor at International Business Times, recently told TheWrap the strategy was anything but a silver bullet for the company. By adding autoplay clips, IBT aimed to keep eyeballs on the screen longer and, in turn, boost its ad revenue. That didn’t happen.

“[The pivot to video] was forced on us, and I never got an explanation why, but I can only guess they were looking at the balance sheets and saying ‘this is a fast way for us to make up some gains,'” said Bonner. “It didn’t work, as far as I can tell, because we all got laid off.”

Compounding matters, goals put in place by many of the big money venture capital firms backing these companies has undermined the drive of their editorial teams. An obsession with traffic first, quality journalism second, has stymied the industry. And the impact of VC — and its share of the blame in the media-wide downturn — isn’t lost on those that have seen it firsthand.

“So many of these companies got a lot of VC [venture capital] funding and then at companies, like a BuzzFeed and Mashable, there’s an emphasis on growth. The way to grow is to get hits and the way to get hits is to publish stories that gets hits, not necessarily stories about hard news,” said the former senior Mic employee. “That shifts things away from journalism towards traffic and when you do journalism for traffic rather than for journalism, that takes the sail out of journalists, makes it harder to stay focused, and makes it much more of a business and commodity.”

So what’s the path forward? Cohn sees more companies turning to a “hybrid” business model — somewhere along the spectrum between BuzzFeed’s obsession with scale, and smaller subscription-based outlets like The Information. At the same time, the million dollar question boils down to how tech and media companies find a working relationship moving forward. The hysteria over social media wiping traditional outlets off the map is overstated, but fostering a more beneficial arrangement for quality content will have to be made.

“In truth, they need each other, and when push comes to shove, these tech giants know that and understand that. You can’t surf Google if no one’s producing content, and it means nothing to share content on Facebook if there isn’t good content being made,” said Cohn. “And there’s only so many cat photos people that people can really share. There has to be substantive stuff.” 

(Disclaimer: TheWrap media editor Jon Levine was formerly a staff writer at Mic).

Related stories from TheWrap:

California Wildfire Update: 'Westworld' Production Back on, 'SWAT' Still Off as Blaze Spreads

'Jeopardy!' Champion Slapped With Felony Charges

When Digital Media's 'Pivot to Video' Goes Wrong

Mic Lays Off 25 Employees in Pivot to Video

Break Media Pivots From Sexy Photos and Prank Videos to Sci-Fi Movie With Lorenzo di Bonaventura