Don’t ‘Mistake What’s Going on Here’ with Acosta’s Theatrics, Conway Says

WH counselor criticized mainstream media for downplaying cybersecurity updates from Trump officials while glorifying CNN's star reporter

Image Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway rebuked mainstream media outlets for downplaying or ignoring a major Cabinet-level presentation for journalists Thursday on U.S. election security efforts while showering coverage on anti-Trump grandstanding by CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“Just today in the briefing room we had Cabinet members come and talk about what they are doing in 2018 to stop meddling, interference in our elections,” Conway (above right) said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

Conway added that “if the mainstream media truly cared about election interference, they would be able to write a story or finish a sentence without mentioning Donald Trump’s name.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, national security adviser John Bolton and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone briefed reporters at the White House, providing substantial information about the government’s efforts on the issue.

“But for this mainstream media who, as you pointed out, covered the Russian story more than anything this calendar year — when it came to speaking from the podium about what this president and his administration will do to try to stop it, they’re not covering it because it’s not coming in the [Paul] Manafort trial. It’s not coming in the [special counsel Robert] Mueller report,” Conway said.

“It’s not coming out of the mouths of someone else,” Conway added. “It’s coming from a cohesive and positive fashion from this president what he’s going to do. So it’s complete hypocrisy.”

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Although the officials offered detailed accounts of steps being taken to combat any further election interference attempts ahead of the midterm elections, it was Acosta’s harangue of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that drew the media spotlight.

Acosta, who routinely faces booing and heckling from Trump supporters at rallies, complained about Trump’s frequent criticism of “fake news” and repeatedly challenged Sanders to denounce Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” to describe the “fake news” reporters and outlets. Sanders declined to do so.

“I thought press secretary Sarah Sanders handled it beautifully today when she really read a bill of particulars, an entire litany of facts of things that have been said about her and some violence that has been incited against her, that she’s the only press secretary in, I guess, U.S. history … that’s needed bodyguards,” Conway said.

Conway urged the nation not to “mistake what’s going on here” with Acosta’s theatrics and mainstream media outlets’ bias against Trump.

“A lot of these journalists have very expensive, seven-figure contracts, go on late-night TV where they can yuck it up with someone who is similarly situated, who just laugh[s] all day long, particularly about the women in the Trump administration,” Conway said.

“Then they go and give speeches — I mean, they speak for free every single day and … most of the country doesn’t listen to them,” she said.

Noting that media bias “doesn’t just come in the form of overtly one-sided lopsided reporting,” Conway said that “selectivity of what gets covered and what does not” also constitutes bias.

Conway said Nielsen’s participation alongside Vice President Mike Pence in New York earlier this week at a Homeland Security cybersecurity summit at the Alexander Hamilton Customs House drew sparse media coverage. But protests against Pence and Nielsen that were inspired by the liberal dystopia depicted in the Hulu streaming series “The Handmaid’s Tale” got major media coverage.

“The media hardly covered this entire conference on cybersecurity and election security,” Conway lamented.

Related: CNN’s Acosta Won’t Let ‘Enemy of the People’ Go

Fox News host Laura Ingraham also offered a word of caution to her fellow media members in light of the Acosta spectacle and the onslaught of biased coverage.

“My friends in the media — you cannot ridicule and attack a major part of the American electorate, you can’t disparage them and the president they voted for every day and then expect gratitude and cordiality in return,” Ingraham warned.

“But I hope everybody will take a breath and learn to treat each other with civility and respect — the protesters, the president and the media and the way they cover them all,” Ingraham added.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, also joined “The Ingraham Angle” to discuss Acosta and the media’s coverage of the Trump administration.

“Whether we like it or not, the media is from a particular subset of American life, and they feel it’s their odyssey and their journey to delegitimize this president and the people who support him for a variety of cultural and class reasons,” Hanson said. “And I’m not saying that Trump is an angel, but the coverage is not disinterested. And to suggest it is, is really pathetic.”

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