Jim Acosta's T-shirt sarcasm slamming Trump irks conservatives, here's why their hypocrisy is telling

The CNN journalist, who became a household name during Donald Trump era for his confrontations, recently wore a T-shirt that took an indirect dig at the former GOP administration


                            Jim Acosta's T-shirt sarcasm slamming Trump irks conservatives, here's why their hypocrisy is telling
Jim Acosta (Getty Images)
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CNN journalist Jim Acosta has taken his vaccine shot but more than that, he has stolen the limelight for wearing a T-shirt in exhibiting the details of all the stories that he has covered in 2020 -- a year that was an eventful one in the history of the United States.

Acosta’s black T-shirt read: “In 2020, I covered the impeachment trial & a caucus night (that lasted a week) & the primaries & the covid pandemic & the economic crash & the racial justice protests & Lafayette Square & so many rallies & the death of RBG & the president’s 1AM coronavirus diagnosis & a Supreme Court confirmation & an election night (that lasted a week) & things by tweet & the recounts & the presidential transition & I have a commemorative shirt to prove it.” Acosta, who is the CNN's chief domestic correspondent, also spoke about the vaccine and urged all to take the shot but the focus was more on his shirt than the words. The 49-year-old journalist, who became a household name in the times of Donald Trump as the president, thanks to his open confrontations with the latter and suspension of his White House press pass for allegedly putting his hand on a young intern who tried to grab his microphone. 

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Acosta’s sour relation with the conservative camp came to the open once again during the Conservative Political Action Committee in Orlando, Florida, last month where a conservative reporter confronted him over the CNN’s coverage of New York’s embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is fighting allegations over hiding Covid-19-related deaths in nursing homes and sexually harassing several women. Acosta was welcomed with chants “CNN sucks” at arrival and was also cut off in the middle of an interview by David Marcus, who works for conservative magazine The Federalist.

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(AFP OUT) Former president Donald Trump during an exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta at the White House in November 2018. (Getty Images)

Acosta, who grew up in the Washington DC area and graduated from James Madison University, joined CNN in 2007 after working for local and network TV stations. He started covering political stories for CNN, including presidential election campaigns. In 2016, Acosta’s bulldog-style reporting even saw him asking then Cuban president Raul Castro during a joint news conference with former president Barack Obama the reason for not releasing political prisoners. Acosta's father was also an immigrant from Cuba.

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It was not surprising to see Acosta take a special interest in the Trump administration and on several occasions, he took on the Republican on air over his statements leading to tense moments. Trump’s harsh words on the mainstream media made it easier for the mincing-no-word journalist in Acosta who told The Washington Post once: “When the president of the United States calls the press ‘fake news’ and ‘the enemy of the American people’, . . . I think that’s when you have to get tough and ask the hard questions.”

The conservative camp has called Acosta “narcissist” for his act (Townhall.com Associate Editor Beth Bauman tweeted so) but for the journalist, it was a mocking verdict on the former Trump administration’s chaotic governance in 2020 when America saw two serious challenges in terms of coronavirus pandemic and race riots. The Trump administration struggled to meet both of them as several citizens continued to die of the deadly virus while relentless riots sparked by the murder of George Floyd resulted in wanton destruction of property and a disturbed social order. For a journalist, 2020 was a year to remember, professionally. Some of Costa's critics also said that he and his network still talk about Trump almost 80 percent of the time. 

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'Acosta is standing up to a bully'

The conservatives feel Acosta was trying to belittle Trump yet again, more than two months after he left office. But their attacks on the journalist might not be too convincing this time. Acosta is a journalist who likes to do his work like a combatant and to borrow the words from a Politico Magazine report from September 2017: “...Acosta is standing up to a bully—both for a network that has been under attack by Trump and those who feel disenfranchised in the president’s America. But there is also a view inside the network’s newsroom that Acosta has been given the latitude, perhaps even the implicit assignment, to turn the briefing room into a personal editorial page because it is good television and reaffirms CNN’s integral role in the ongoing drama”.

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Acosta, who was once called “a real beauty” by Trump when he asked him whether he could handle media scrutiny, represents journalism of these times. By refusing to get silenced by Trump, Acosta has in a way emerged a voice representing all of America’s mainstream media over the last four years and resorted to the same self-aggrandizement to meet Trump’s own self-aggrandizing style. The pattern continues even after Trump’s departure and Acosta’s self-advertising T-shirt unsurprisingly has irked the conservatives who now have none of the institutions -- the presidency or the Congress -- under their control. The most they can now do is blast Acosta on social media. 

But the conservatives’ reactions against Acosta have little edge. First of all, whatever Acosta has mentioned in his shirt is factually correct so there is little ground to counter them. Secondly, those facts had taken place in the presidency of Trump. The conservatives are perhaps feeling angry over their helplessness that they could not counter the claims on Acosta’s shirt and are accusing him of narcissism. But did the words on the shirt make them pause and think the lows that life in the US touched under Trump in 2020?

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