Jim Acosta speaks at Playhouse


Photo by Logan Dubil

Chief White House Correspondent for CNN Jim Acosta spoke at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on Feb. 6 as the third speaker in the Media Innovations Speaker Series

Written By Luke Mongelli, Co-News Editor

Jim Acosta, the Chief White House Correspondent for CNN, spoke at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on Feb. 6 for another installment in the Media Innovations Speaker Series.

Acosta was welcomed with open arms by some, but others in the audience shouted out with cries of “fake news,” and “Infowars,” among other claims of hateful intent, which Acosta quickly diffused.

“You mean the same Infowars that claims that the Sandy Hook shooting didn’t happen?” Acosta responded.

Acosta sat down in the sold-out PNC Theater with Point Park students and community members alike to answer questions, address the events taking place in Washington D.C. and analyze some key points in the most recent years of his career with the popular news network.

Acosta was the third of four speakers to participate in the Speaker Series. Andy Conte, the director of the Center for Media Innovation, organizes each of the speaker series events and moderates the speeches.

“It was really great, there was a lot of positive energy in the room,” Conte said about his overall feeling of the event. “The message was on point with what we were trying to convey, and it had that star quality with it. It was by far the most successful series, and is going in the direction that we want the speaker series to head.”

The packed audience included several students of the university who were thrilled with Acosta’s speech.

“I thought Jim Acosta was a very good speaker, he was very personable while still being professional,” freshman cinema production major, Sara Waldman, said. “He covered many different topics surrounding his career…and spoke about his time with both the Trump and Obama Administration.”

Acosta previously covered the Obama administration, and is currently overseeing the Trump administration on behalf of CNN.

“Working during the Presidency of Donald Trump is a challenge unlike any other I’ve experienced in my career,” Acosta said during his speech. “Trump is shattering the norms of Washington.”

Acosta stated that President Trump has often referred to the press as “the enemy of the people,” and that in turn, Trump has painted political journalism as a prejudice-heavy industry.

“I don’t bring bias to my job,” Acosta said. “This misleads people to think we are out to report fake news. Trump has not only dehumanized the press, he has de-Americanized them.”

Throughout the speech, Conte played videos of some key moments of Acosta’s most recent coverage during the last two presidential administrations he covered. Acosta discussed a video he recorded on his cell phone of supporters of President Trump, giving him the middle finger and yelling profanities at him.

“If they call us the enemy of the people, I want to give them a chance to correct it. So I want it documented,” Acosta said. Then, in true Pittsburgh fashion, Acosta said, “we could use a little more Mr. Rogers in this world.”

Conte and Acosta then opened the theater up to questions from the audience.

Here is an abbreviated summary of some of the questions and answers:

Q: What is the best advice you have for aspiring journalists in college?

A: Keep at it. We need reinforcements. This is the best time to go into the business, but it is very competitive. Do not be deterred, and do not be afraid to screw up.


Q: How is the media aiding in the promotion of bias?

A: Fox News is running a propaganda operation. But we (CNN) try to hold their feet to the fire no matter who is in power.


Q: What is one of the most noticeable changes between the Trump and Obama Administrations for you?

A: I actually need bodyguards now, which is something I never imagined I would have.


Q: How is the media changed by Trump being the President?

A: This will change over time. But the way the media is portrayed today is a phenomenon associated with this President


Q: How do you put up with a President who has put a target on your back?

A: It is not easy. You just have to get tough. One time we actually got a pipe bomb sent to the CNN headquarters in D.C, and it was scary. People have threatened me, and my family, and it is some of the scariest stuff I have ever had to deal with, you just have to get tough.


Jim Acosta left Point Park and the community of Pittsburgh with one final remark:

“We are all Americans, we all need to capture that again in order to go forward.”