Controversial filmmaker Margaret Atwood speaks at the closing night of MLK event in Atlanta, but the Republican politician says she was not in fact in attendance
CNN reporter confronts GOP politician about statements on critical race theory
CNN has been forced to apologize after its reporter Jim Acosta confronted a Republican politician about statements he made on a critical race theory.
Acosta, the network’s White House correspondent, asked Todd Wilcox of the Georgia state house about remarks he made to the Washington Post in 2016 about an expert his party sought to hire who works with the University of North Carolina. He referred to them as “academic racist” and said they were only hired because they were negative about George W Bush.
“These folks are very negative in terms of George W Bush, who I think had some of the greatest economic growth in this country and who under your leadership sent our troops into Iraq, which is not in the best interest of this country,” Acosta said.
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Wilcox had agreed to work on a book the party was seeking to publish for $40,000 but had cancelled the contract on seeing that the book’s critics, academic and former FBI director James Comey, were also on the staff.
At the conclusion of the interview Acosta went over to Wilcox to say he had not made clear to the audience that the expert was not in attendance but the politician responded with his usual claim of innocence.
“I didn’t know that was important,” he said.
Acosta responded: “You just said you did not know that.”
Wilcox had been pressed by CNN to respond to a report from 2012 by the Columbia Journalism Review in which he participated in a strategy session on how to frame the case for discriminating against African Americans in college admissions.
He denied knowing of the meeting, saying the review was “the most unfair thing I’ve ever read”.
“I don’t care if an undergraduate gets a 3.3 grade point average,” Wilcox said at the time. “If he gets into the Ivy League, that’s still inappropriate because it gives access to our state.”
On Saturday, CNN defended Acosta’s question.
“Jim Acosta’s question to a Georgia state representative was legitimate, and he was right to challenge the state representative about his call for legislation in a statehouse in Georgia that would have fundamentally changed our country’s fundamental protections to black students,” the network said in a statement.
Acosta also attempted to interview the director of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Olivier Knox, who was present at the event.
Atwood responded to the incident in a blog post and by email to the New York Times.
She wrote: “It was an undeniable mistake that resulted in the confusion that was embarrassing for many people – myself included.”
Acosta’s tweeted apology referenced the same column and article in which he was dismissive. “I tweeted about the Columbia J-R story because of the choice to write this and leave it out,” he wrote. “I knew they were not in attendance. I know they wouldn’t give an interview on the record, either. But any further doubts on that were dispelled this evening when the J-R’s Olivier Knox showed up.”
On Saturday afternoon John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, wrote on Twitter that he “hates to see” what was occurring.