NEW YORK CITY — CNN’s Jim Acosta lamented Wednesday that US President Donald Trump appeared to be intentionally calling on friendly media outlets in order to avoid difficult questions about the controversies clouding over the early days of his administration.
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer immediately after a press conference, Acosta suggested Trump was intentionally seeking “very conservative” outlets, hoping to dodge questions about his former campaign associates’ reported communications with Russian officials.
“In the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by conservative press. I think, Wolf, there’s no other way to describe it, but the fix is in,” Acosta said. “This president does not want to answer questions, critical questions about his associates, his aide’s contacts with the Russians during the course of that campaign, just as his national security adviser is being run out of the White House on a rail.”
He added: “They may think this is being cute, or being strategic in trying to shield the president from questions, but those questions can only be shielded for so long.”
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CNN reporter @Acosta after Trump calls on only right-wing outlets for the third straight press conference: “The fix is in” pic.twitter.com/FPtaGEIenC
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) February 15, 2017
Indeed, over the last several press conferences, the reporters and commentators whom Trump has called on have not asked him about major controversies hanging over the administration, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s private statements to Russia government officials and connections between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, a conservative commentator, asked Trump to lay out “compromises you have in mind” for a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody alluded to the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia, but did not attempt to dig further into Trump’s knowledge of the communications or the ongoing investigation. Instead, he asked if “some of those events with those communications to Russia would hamper the nuclear deal.”
During a press conference on Monday before Flynn’s resignation, Trump selected reporters from The Daily Caller and Sinclair media, outlets generally considered sympathetic to Trump’s presidency. Scott Thurman from ABC7 Sinclair asked about the “philosophical differences” between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while the Caller’s Kaitlan Collins asked Trump to name the biggest security threat to the US.
And the White House previously raised eyebrows after the president only took questions during his press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has longstanding personal and financial ties to Trump.
Some reporters on Wednesday did attempt to ask Trump about the FBI investigation into the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Acosta and other reporters shouted questions about the reports at Trump as he left the stage, but the president did not answer.
Some questioners defended their approach.
In an email to Business Insider, Pavlich noted that the press conference was billed as a discussion about relations between the US and Israel, dismissing criticism and snark about the unwillingness to ask about Russia.
“The presser was about Israeli/U.S. relations, so I asked about Israeli/U.S. relations,” Pavlich said. “I was there as a reporter doing my job and have no interest in becoming the story.”
The prominence of smaller outlets among the questioners comes as White House press secretary Sean Spicer has attempted to call on a more diverse range of media, including local outlets and even former Trump campaign supporters.