Reviews of the new book “The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America” are starting to pour in and they’re panning the book and its author, CNN liberal star reporter Jim Acosta, who one critics insisted has “become a commentator” in the Trump era.
NPR book critic Annalisa Quinn hits Acosta’s book for not asking why President Trump has “succeeded” with his attacks against the media but used the anti-Trump memoir “as an opportunity to relitigate his spats with the White House rather than to meaningfully interrogate the cultural shift that left huge numbers of people despising and fearing the press.”
“In ‘The Enemy of the People,’ Acosta sounds less like a reporter than a rival athlete: ‘We beat Trump!’ Acosta remembers shouting after the lawsuit. Later, he writes, the ‘Trump people … had clearly gotten spanked.’ The tone throughout is jocular and self-congratulatory,” Quinn wrote. “Describing a Trump confrontation, he writes that another reporter was ‘the real hero’ of the news conference for defending Acosta, something you only say if you believe you are, in fact, the apparent and obvious hero.”
Quinn scrutinized Acosta’s argument that journalists either “absorb Trump’s attacks” or “push back and stand up for ourselves,” calling that an “artificial distinction.”
“Reporters become part of the story when the president attacks them. But in between absorbing abuse and hitting back is another option: fighting for access, challenging the president on lies, and reporting the facts the way you would with any other story,” Quinn argued. “Acosta seems to believe that the attacks give him special dispensation to offer his personal opinions, and that doing so is even an act of bravery or public service.”
Quinn concluded her review by pointing out an interview Acosta did where he described how CNN “and other Democratic targets” were mailed pipe bombs by an angry Trump supporter.
“‘And other Democratic targets’ was clearly a slip of the tongue: CNN is not affiliated with any party. Acosta meant perceived Democratic targets. But the mistake (which he has made before) is nonetheless telling,” Quinn stated. “Acosta has allowed Trump to set the terms of engagement. Trump paints the media as the opposition, and Acosta has accepted the mantle without wondering what he might be giving up in return.”
The Guardian contributor Lloyd Green wasn’t much kinder, saying Acosta’s book “lacks the acid-dripping punch’ of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ and ‘Siege,’ the granularity of Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ and the salaciousness of Stormy Daniels’ ‘Full Disclosure,’ noting that the ‘bar is high’ in a universe “cluttered by tell-alls.”
“Unfortunately, Acosta’s quotes and anecdotes are frequently sourced to unnamed White House officials and political insiders,” Green wrote. “For example, we are told that at least one member of the administration views Trump as ‘insane’ and another sees him as potentially ‘compromised’ by the Russians. On such topics, Acosta glides across well-tilled ground.”
Green also knocked Acosta for failing not to address how the country “reached this inflection point” when Trump was elected president and how the CNN reporter acts like an “advocate or editorialist.”
“Acosta acknowledges Trump’s working-class base and captures the shock that reverberated with his upset win. But he fails to place the rage and resentment in the larger context of how America and the west reached this inflection point,” Green said. “Acosta should address all this after he tacitly cops to acting like an advocate or editorialist, as opposed to simply reporting breaking news or calling balls and strikes. In his words: ‘Neutrality for the sake of neutrality doesn’t really serve us in the age of Trump.'”