Jim Acosta: Hannity and Carlson get their scripts from the White House

Fox News host and conspiracy theorist Sean Hannity. Screen capture courtesy of Vox via YouTube video

It’s round three in the verbal dustup between CNN’s Jim Acosta and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, with Acosta scaling it up another notch Tuesday by suggesting Carlson and Hannity receive their talking points (and maybe even whole scripts) from the White House.

But round one began earlier this week when Hannity saw fit to attack Acosta over his recently published book The Enemy of The People. In his book, Acosta, who is CNN’s chief White House correspondent, singled out Hannity for his “faux-macho man bullsh*t.,” Mediaite reports.

So Acosta responded in kind, sharing an excerpt of his book on Twitter.

“Hearing Sean Hannity is taking some shots at me over my book,” he tweeted. Two things Sean… #1. I offered to come on your show and talk about the book and you guys declined. Sad! #2. You’re in the book. It was that time you had a chance to say something to my face but didn’t. Enjoy!”

And while appearing on The Hugh Hewitt Show, Acosta suggested that at certain times of the day, Fox News looks quite a lot like Cuban state TV, Mediaite reports.

“[At] certain hours of the day on Fox…it is very much a house organization for the president,” Acosta told Hewitt, adding “Have we ever witnessed a situation like that, where a network essentially just serves as an amplifier of the president’s message of the day? And to some extent, focused and fixated on the conspiracy theories that he spreads. That to me is very much the definition of propaganda and state TV.”

But the conservative radio show host, noting Acosta’s distaste for the phrase “fake news,” wanted him to explain things a bit further. Hewitt wanted to know what the difference was between delegitimizing a news outlet by calling it fake news as compared to delegitimizing a news outlet by calling it state TV.

“You’re attempting to delegitimize the hours between 8 and 11 on Fox by calling it propaganda and state TV,” Hewitt said. “The president attempts to delegitimize CNN by calling it fake news. If you object to fake news, I don’t know how you can use propaganda. I don’t use either of them.”

Appearing on Hewitt’s program to plug his book, Acosta said he stood by his remarks. He noted that while networks aren’t serving as an arm of the government, there are obvious connections. He pointed out former White House communications director Bill Shine, who arranged interviews between Trump and Fox News personalities at rallies.

Then Acosta referenced Hannity and Carlson’s shows.

“There have been moments on that conservative news network you’ve been asking me about where they’ve gone after me on a number of occasions,” Acosta said. “Listen, I feel as though I have a right to defend myself. And I think what you do see during those hours is not even remotely close to anything resembling the news.”

He had additional criticism for Hannity and Carlson, noting that both Fox News hosts continue to attack him yet never have him on their programs so that he can defend himself.

“What’s with that? If you’re so darn tough, why don’t you give me an invitation to come on your show? What I’ve found over the last few days is that they’re not willing to do that. They’re willing to shoot spitballs from the sidelines like the class clown, but they’re not willing to meet me on the schoolyard. And that’s on them.”

Last week in a tweet, Hannity said he didn’t wish to have Acosta on his show because he promotes conspiracy theories. Please note I’m writing this with a straight face.

He actually tweeted:

“Sorry, I won’t subject my audience to conspiracy theory fake news. Go hawk that garbage on the lowest-rated cable channel u work for.”

Acosta told Hewitt he believes Carlson and Hannity get their information directly from the White House.

“You don’t think they get a script that night, Hugh when they come on?” Acosta said. “You don’t think that they’re reading from talking points that are almost identical to what the White House wants that day?”

Hewitt, who’s also an anchor at MSNBC, seemed befuddled by this and said he doesn’t think the two receive scripts from the Trump administration, Talking Points Memo reports.

“None of us get a script from the government, none of us do that,” he responded.

He asked Acosta if he really believed this, and the CNN host responded affirmatively.

“It sounds like that’s what’s going on over there, [on fox news],” he said. “It sounds like that’s the case.”

This is really rich when you consider that Hannity may be the king of conspiracy theories. This hilarious video from Vox highlights Hannity’s fondness for these whackadoodle theories.

And in the hours after Acosta fired a salvo at Carlson, the Fox News anchor returned fire on Twitter by insulting his intelligence.

“Just because we are pro-truth doesn’t mean we are anti-Trump,” Carlson wrote. “No one’s ever accused Jim Acosta of being a genius, but even by our estimate, it’s pretty shocking that he is so proud of himself.”

So perhaps we should put Carlson’s and Hannity’s feet to the fire. If they’re just parroting information we need to question them further. Question their sources and what their purpose is for giving out this information. Frankly, we should do that with all journalists. And if they’re going to yell “fake news,” we need to know why it’s fake news and what their motivation is for doing so. That’s the best way to get to the bottom of this increasingly unpleasant situation.

Hewitt’s tweet below includes a link to his interview with Acosta.