CNN’s Jim Acosta accused a guest of mindlessly repeating talking points, while repeating the same sentence twice in a row — just minutes after saying the same phrase three times in 30 seconds.
On Sunday’s “CNN Newsroom,” Acosta accused Thomas Hughes, who oversees Facebook’s Oversight Board Administration, of undue repetition. Last week, the board upheld Facebook’s ban of former President Donald Trump but gave the social media platform six months to clarify its policy on suspending accounts.
Acosta asked whether the board’s members decided to “punt” by issuing a “quasi-decision,” and whether they opposed a permanent suspension.
Hughes replied that the members could only comment on Facebook’s rules, which give the company “the ability to have a permanent suspension” or a “time-bound suspension, but not an indefinite suspension.”
Placing the most recent former president of the United States under any suspension that is “not clearly set out in its own rules” could appear “arbitrary” and “have a very strong chilling effect around free expression issues,” Hughes said.
Acosta then interrupted, using three variations of the phrase “incited an insurrection” in 30 seconds:
Well, inciting an insurrection could have a real chilling effect on democracy, as you note, Thomas. I mean, there is that issue. The president of the United States at the time, many people in the United States believe — I mean, it’s fairly clear to just about anybody who watched what happened on January 6th that he incited an insurrection.
Isn’t that something that has to be taken into account? You are not just talking about, you know, regulating just any Tom, Dick, or Harry out there. We’re talking about somebody who incited an insurrection.
Moments later, Acosta reiterated, “This is not just anybody. This is somebody who incited an insurrection.”
Acosta then proceeded to ask the same, similarly worded question five times in a row.
First, he asked Hughes: “Let’s say Facebook reinstates Trump’s account. Do you believe the social network would be responsible if his rhetoric led to more violence?”
Then, Acosta followed up, “If you gave Trump the green light to be back on Facebook, wouldn’t you be responsible if he goes about lying about the election again and incites more violence in this country?”
Acosta asked a third time, “If the board gives [Trump] the green light to get back on Facebook and Facebook goes along with that, what I’m asking you sir, is, would that make Facebook and the board, and you in particular, sir, responsible if Trump’s rhetoric leads to more violence in this country?”
In his fourth question, Acosta asked, “Would Facebook be responsible … if Trump gets back on the platform, lies again, continues to incite people, and there is violence because of that rhetoric?”
In his fifth question, Acosta asked “whether Facebook and the oversight board would be responsible if Trump continues to lie about the election on that platform, on the Facebook platform, and people carry out violence and people are injured or killed as a result of that.”
In his last two questions, Acosta instructed Hughes, “It’s just a yes or no. … And you could say yes. You could say no.”
Over the course of several responses, the representative said the board had “clearly noted the severity of [Trump’s] violation” of Facebook’s community standards. But Hughes, who has a background in human rights activism, said an indefinite suspension violates “international human rights standards.”
Acosta seemed so frustrated at Hughes’ message discipline that Acosta managed to repeat himself while accusing Hughes of giving repetitious answers to repetitious questions.
“You’re saying the same thing over and over again, if you don’t mind,” Acosta said.
“If you don’t mind me saying, you are kind of saying the same thing over and over again,” Acosta immediately echoed in the next sentence.
Acosta has been accused of lacking self-awareness in the past, such as calling Fox News a “bull**** factory” while ignoring his own history of spreading misinformation.
Acosta likely blanched at Hughes’ refusal to “take the bait.” Whenever a CNN host asks a question, he or she is actually “leading [their guests] in a direction before they even open their mouths,” CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester admitted in an undercover video released by Project Veritas. “The only people that we let on the air … are people that have a proven track record of taking the bait.”
Acosta’s lashing out came just days after another guest refused to take the bait while discussing the Three-Fifths Compromise on Don Lemon’s eponymous prime time show.
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