CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett is an old-style journalist. That is not to say not that he’s old. But that he still believes and adheres to the true role of the journalist, to report the facts and the truth, not to become the news.
And he shared that thought with Larry O’Connor on his radio show as they spoke about the situation with CNN’s Jim Acosta and his behavior at the White House.
While he said that he didn’t want to “critique other journalists in the way they ask and seek answers to their questions,” he did share some thoughts on the subject.
First, he offered that yes, there should be a ‘standard of conduct as to how one dealt with the president.
From Daily Wire:
It’s the most majestic political place in America, the White House. The only place second to that in my experience where I spent almost 15 years [is] the United States Congress. It’s a little bit more rough and tumble there. It can be rough and tumble at times in the White House. But it is a place of institutional heft and commands institutional respect – and I will say on my behalf, the previous press conference we had with President Trump in the Rose Garden, the president looked at me, I thought he called on me, I stood up, the White House aide handed me the microphone, I began to speak to the President of the United States, President Trump looked at me and said, “No, behind you. Kaitlan [Collins],” with CNN.
So I said, “Oh,” and what did I do? I handed back the microphone. Now, some of my colleagues might say, “What [did] you do that for? You had the microphone; you have a voice; you can speak.” The President of the United States said “not you.” To my way of thinking, that’s enough. The president said, I didn’t call on you, I called on somebody else. Alright then – and I didn’t get a question that press conference. Some might say, “Well, you laid down,” and “you were too deferential.” I don’t feel that way…
So I deferred, hoping he might call on me again. He didn’t. That’s how I orient myself to the institution. The person who occupies that institution is chosen by the country, and I respect the institution and the country’s choice, and I’m there to – on behalf of everyone – ask questions and, most importantly, Larry, get answers.
Garrett made clear that if you’re not getting answers, you’re not doing your job to its “fullest capability.”
So if you’re Jim Acosta and just performing for the cameras, you’re really not doing your job at all because you’re not actually getting any answers or facts, you’re just grandstanding.
O’Connor asked Garrett:
“Can you understand how an average American watching what transpired there would say, “Well, that’s got to breach and go beyond the appropriate code of conduct”? I think that many people watching, setting aside the First Amendment arguments for a moment, would say, “Yeah, I think the president might have a point in saying, ‘I don’t wanna deal with this guy anymore.'”
Garrett avoided directly criticizing Acosta again but talked about what he thought the “best journalists” should aspire to.
I do my level best to not put myself or make myself part of the story, and I think the best journalists operate that way.
Because, again, I go back to that fundamental point. Why are you standing up to ask a question in the first place? To get an answer. Why’s that answer important? Because it tells the country something it didn’t already know. That’s the whole point of this interaction with the American presidency. To inform the public of what they have not yet learned.
Garrett also shared a bit about his experiences with the Obama White House, during which time he, Garrett, worked for Fox News.
From The Hill:
“The [Obama] White House said it was at war with Fox News. I was its most visible editorial representative on the White House grounds as a senior White House correspondent,” he continued.
“The White House would always pull me aside and say ‘well, really, Major, we’re not at war with you,’ and I said ‘stop talking to me like that because when you’re at war with my network you by definition are questioning and assailing my journalistic credibility and the work I do here every day,’ ” he said. ” ‘So don’t tell me it’s not about me, it is about me.’ ”
“Now, they never tried to pull my pass, but they had this sort of arms-length relationship to Fox and tried to demonize it on a daily basis. So that’s another part of American history and journalism in the White House press corps I think at least should be noted at this moment,” he said.
But media doesn’t care about that because many of them also bashed Fox as well.
The Obama administration also infamously spied on the AP and on Fox’s James Rosen, a slightly more intrusive practice than simply kicked someone out for their own bad behavior. One of the many scandals that his administration never received any consequences for.