CNN’s Jim Acosta’s is in a huff about President Trump dissing him and his network as purveyors of “fake news.”

Acosta has claimed “this kind of rhetoric, this kind of behavior is going to lead to a journalist being hurt. That’s the thing I worry about.”

I would suggest that Acosta’s brand of rhetoric and his kind of behavior is going to lead to his entire profession being hurt. That’s what I worry about.

But Acosta and others like him are disingenuous phonies.

Did Acosta express outrage when his colleagues at Newsweek, over the course of 21 days, compared Trump to Charles Manson and labeled the president of the United States a “hate group”?

If so, I must have missed that.

Acosta probably regrets getting scooped by Newsweek.

Now which characterization do you suppose truly endangers lives – calling a reporter a “fake news” purveyor or comparing the president to Charles Manson and smearing him as a walking, talking “hate group”?

Which of those characterizations are more volatile, inflammatory, incendiary and dangerous?

To top it off, the organization Newsweek relied on to bolster its “hate crime” slur was none other than the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group that has already inspired two violent shooting attacks in Washington by its wacky followers against, first, the Family Research Council and, second, a group of Republican members of Congress practicing softball.

If that’s not a hate group, then the phrase has lost all meaning in our society.

During a Poynter Journalism Ethics Summit, Acosta said reporters are not part of “the resistance,” but added: “When journalists are attacked, journalists have to resist.”

Is it an “attack” on all journalists to call into question the credibility of certain reporters?

Of course not. It comes with the territory. Reporters need to earn credibility. It’s not something with which they are endowed by their Creator.

It’s fair game for Americans, including the president, to share his opinions about the truthfulness and fairness of journalists, just as it fair game for journalists to share their opinions about a president. However, as in the Newsweek examples – or when Acosta accosts his subjects – they have crossed the lines of civility and responsibility.

Personally, as a one-time target of Acosta’s shrill and uninformed attack-style journalism, I question not only his civility and responsibility; I question his competence and his sanity.

The truth is that Trump-baiting journalists are not being lynched by Trump supporters. However, the endangered species of journalists who look at Trump objectively and fairly are being marginalized and smeared daily by the euphemistically called “mainstream media” – not to mention the politically one-sided, self-appointed digital gatekeepers of what constitutes real news, Google and Facebook. It’s what Justice Clarence Thomas once characterized accurately as a “high-tech” form of lynching.

Somebody needs to rein in Acosta. He’s running amok. He’s hardly doing himself a service with his antics. Honestly, throw a net over him – it’s straightjacket time.

But, maybe, he’s auditioning for a reality show. Maybe he doesn’t like the self-imposed restraints real journalists place on themselves to seek the truth at all costs. Maybe he’s got his sights set on a job as a political crusader at MSNBC or elsewhere.

Whatever.

All I know is he’s not a reporter. He’s a carnival barker.

The label “fake news” is not a slur if hurled at Acosta or the network for which he works. It’s an accurate characterization.

I suspect that’s why Donald Trump gets under his skin. He’s got his number.

And it’s the number zero.

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