CNN Absurdly Claims Romney Aide's Outburst Was 'Sort of' 'Unprovoked'

CNN excused reporters for shouting questions that could have passed for heckling outside a sacred site in Poland, but ripped a Mitt Romney aide for responding by cursing at them. On Thursday morning, CNN's Jim Acosta dismissed any controversy over the loaded questions in a completely self-righteous narrative.

Acosta excused reporters, "it's really no surprise really, that the press tried their best to get a question to him today," despite the shouted questions coming outside Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. "I think it should also be noted that this press aide, and what he said to us, was really inexcusable."

Acosta's slanted story made it seem that the press was simply up to business as usual, when the Romney aide's outburst was not unprovoked. The reporters' questions could have passed for heckling, like "What about your gaffes?" and "do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?"

The Romney aide then admonished reporters to "show some respect" for the "holy site for the Polish people" and cursed at them.

Acosta lectured the aide in his report. "[P]eople get tired, people get testy, but you also have to keep your cool at the same time." CNN was already dogging Mitt Romney's overseas tour for being "marred" with gaffes.

"To have an event and to expect the media not to ask you questions is sort of unrealistic," Acosta insisted, despite the press having had other opportunities to shout questions at the candidate and not outside of a sacred site.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 31 on CNN Newsroom at 9:10 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: Jim, this happened at Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Why the vitriol?

JIM ACOSTA: Well, and I should caution our viewers, Carol. This did not exactly happen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier here in Warsaw. We waited until Mitt Romney moved a good 100 yards away from that monument to shout those questions to the GOP contender. And you know, this is sort of standard operating procedure for how campaigns go, Carol. As you know, shouted questions happen back in the states, and shouted questions can happen overseas.

Basically what happened today was Mitt Romney was going through a number of photo opportunities that his campaign has laid out here in Poland before giving a speech here in Warsaw. And at one point we tried to ask him some questions about the gaffes that he's had on this trip. You'll recall in London, he questioned whether that city was ready for the Olympics. There are some who say that he had a gaffe in Israel, when he was heard at a fundraiser comparing Israel and the Palestinians and those economies, and whether or not culture has something to do with the differences between those economies. And so I think the reporters just tried to ask him some questions. He didn't answer those questions, but in a sort of unprovoked fashion his press aide came over and started dressing us down pretty loudly, as you heard in that audio.

COSTELLO: Well, we do know, Jim, that Mitt Romney, he has sat down with Wolf Blitzer, for example, and he's given an extensive interview. So tell our viewers why Mitt Romney is required to answer questions of reporters like you who are following his campaign.

ACOSTA: Well, and it wasn't just me. There were other reporters from the Washington Times – excuse me, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico. These were journalists who follow his campaign on a daily basis, his traveling press. And those reporters were not given very many opportunities to ask questions during this trip. He had a seven-day trip, Carol, and every step along that way he had his traveling press with him, and he only took three questions over the course of seven days in three countries, so that's really one question per country, if you sort of play it out in terms of an average there. And the last time he took questions from that traveling press was outside 10 Downing Street, and those questions were primarily about what he said about the Olympics.

So he hasn't given reporters much of a chance to ask him questions about how things are going. And let's face it, the New York Times and the Washington Post and some of the -- The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg -- these are important news sites and publications, and those reporters deserve to have their questions asked as well. You make a very good point, and others have made this point as well. The Romney campaign made this point, that Mitt Romney sat down with CNN, he sat down with Fox, and he sat down with the other networks. But there are other reporters who'd like to ask a question as well. They didn't get that chance on this trip, Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, and I will say when candidates sit down with reporters, and I'm not just talking about Mitt Romney. I'm talking about Barack Obama, too. They are prepared for those interviews, they know what they want to say, they have their talking points down. When you shout out questions, they have to give spontaneous answers, and both campaigns have been loathe to do that this time around.

ACOSTA: That's right. That's right. And we should mention this is a bipartisan affair. The President has not had many news conferences since he's been in the White House. But you know, presidents have different styles and candidates have different styles of dealing with this, Carol. I remember covering John McCain back in 2008, bringing the reporters on the back of the Straight Talk Express with Senator McCain wolfing down chili dogs and taking questions from reporters.

And you'll remember, Carol, Sam Donaldson shouting questions at Ronald Reagan right in front of the White House and Ronald Reagan would hold his ear up – his hand up to his ear and act as if he couldn't hear what Sam Donaldson was asking. So there are different ways to handle questions like this from the press. They're going to happen. To have an event and to expect the media not to ask you questions is sort of unrealistic, and to take a traveling press corps overseas for seven days and visit three countries and only – and only put the candidate out for three questions, I think it's really just, it's really no surprise really, that the press tried their best to get a question to him today. They tried, it didn't work out.

And at the same time, I think it should also be noted that this press aide, and what he said to us, was really inexcusable. And he knows that, and that's why he called a couple of the reporters who were there today and apologized. So we're hoping to move on, these things happen, they happen out on the campaign trail, people get tired, people get testy, but you also have to keep your cool at the same time.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014