- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2021

CNN anchor Jim Acosta railed against Fox News in an interview released Thursday, calling the rival cable network a “bulls—t factory” that employs “propagandists” for former President Donald Trump.

Mr. Acosta, CNN‘s chief domestic correspondent, lambasted the conservative-leaning competition while appearing on the latest episode of “The Interview,” a weekly podcast released by the Mediaite website.

Asked if covering Fox News on CNN is fair game, Mr. Acosta answered that reporting on it has become unavoidable due to what he described as a turning point that followed the 2020 presidential election.

Mr. Acosta, 50, said that Mr. Trump “went ballistic” when Fox News first projected on the night of the November election that his Democratic rival had won the traditionally Republican state of Arizona.

“They saw their viewers hemorrhage over to Newsmax and OAN. How did Fox respond to that? Fox responded by becoming more Fox, more Fox-like and more Trumpian,” said Mr. Acosta, naming other networks.

“There was I think a moment of opportunity there for Fox News to come back to the real world. And what they’ve decided to do since then is double down on being what I call the bulls—t factory,” added Mr. Acosta. “They churn out segments that gin up outrage that they know is going to piss off their viewers and so on — even if it’s cockamamy made-up nonsense. And they do it for the simple reason of attracting viewers and ginning up the ratings.

Fox News had no immediate public comment on the criticism. It was the most-watched cable network in the U.S. last month, AdWeek reported recently, citing newly released ratings from Nielsen Media Research. Newsmax viewership has declined sharply in recent months, meanwhile, according to Nielsen. CNN, on its part, said last month was its third best May for ratings in 13 years.

Mr. Acosta added that he “thought long and hard” about if CNN should report on Fox News and believes it has to cover the competition if it lets Mr. Trump and others make false claims about his election loss.

“Do we need to do it every hour of every day? No, we don’t. But if Trump or his lackeys go on Fox, and they spew this nonsense about the election, and they’re not fact-checked in real-time, then they’re operating as propagandists, and they’re doing a bad thing for this country,” said Mr. Acosta.

Mr. Trump blasted Mr. Acosta regularly during his four years in office, repeatedly attacking him as a “fake news” reporter.

Mr. Acosta said on the podcast that he received threats during the Trump presidency and at one point required constant security at his home and up to five bodyguards when reporting from campaign events.

“I thought, ‘Do I need to carry a stun gun around with me?’” said Mr. Acosta. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t think the Secret Service would allow me to bring that into the White House,” he added.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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