The heated exchange between White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and CNN reporter Jim Acosta this week has been the focus of much coverage. Both men went after each other over immigration and, in my view, neither came off particularly well. Acosta at times seemed more of an advocate than a journalist while Miller seemed bizarrely eager to convert the press conference into some high school debating competition. However, my greatest interest was Miller’s repeated accusation that Acosta had revealed his “Cosmopolitan bias.” This may be a new term of art in political circles but it left me scratching my head. It was like the scene in Princess Bride when Montoya stops Vizzini after he says “inconceivable” for the umpteenth time: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Miller used the term a couple times in the exchange:
In the press conference, Miller berates Acosta that his comments “Actually, it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.” This was the first time I had heard this term and I had to reach for my dictionary.
There are a few common definitions for cosmopolitan:
- a person familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures.
- a cosmopolitan person.
- a cocktail
I am going to assume that Miller (who himself could be defined as a beer) is not calling Acosta a vodka drink with Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime juice — though it is quite delicious if a bit decadent.
That leaves a person familiar with or at ease with different countries and cultures. However, that would seem to be the opposite of what Miller is suggesting.
Consider the following exchange:
Acosta objects that we are giving preference to those who can speak English and “Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” Miller responds “Jim, I can honestly say I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English . . . Actually, it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.”
First, after millions of renditions in Washington since Casablanca first aired in 1942, this was the worst performance as Claude Rains in history. Most of us were “shocked, shocked” that Miller would attempt the transparent “how dare you insult immigrants” line.
Second, a Cosmopolitan in this circumstance would be equally comfortable with all cultures and countries not biased toward English speaking countries. What Miller meant was that Acosta was an Anglophile – though many viewers might conclude that he was accusing Acosta of being in love with Angela Merkel.
A cosmopolitan bias is a rather strange construction because being cosmopolitan is a good thing. It is like saying you have an educated bias or a worldly bias. This is why it is not a very good put down to say “well you just like the food because you are a food connoisseur” or “sure, you only like art because you understand art.”
The assumption is that “cosmopolitan” is meant to be a putdown to contrast the media elite with non-cosmopolitans or regular folk. However, cosmopolitan is not a substitute for elitist. Indeed, even the word elite is a bad substitute for elitist. Elite generally refers to a superior group, which is often based on the merits like “an elite fighting force”. Elitist is someone who believes that they have special status or authority.
Yet, Acosta was not being much of an elitist in arguing for people who are not educated on the English language. Such a view would be neither elitist nor cosmopolitan.
That does not mean that Acosta (who is a respected journalist) sounded much like a reporter at that time. His long argument with Miller seemed better suited for a cable opinion show. Acosta gave a long statement about how “The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country, and they’re not always going to speak English, Stephen.” He spoke of his own family history and insisted that this is not “what the United States has been about.” One can easily agree with that sentiment (my Sicilian grandfather was illiterate and spoke no English), but question whether this was a question or criticism from a reporter. There seemed an uncomfortable level of catharsis in the exchange for both men. It felt like that uncomfortable moment when you walk in on two people in the office having a such a meltdown that they do not even notice others have walked into the room.
So I am left as confused as Inigo Montoya. As someone who has strived to be “cosmopolitan,” I must object. That bias is hard to come by. It takes years of open-minded experimentation, travel, and exposure. Either it “does not mean what you think it means” or I have wasted much of my cosmopolitan life.
101 thoughts on “Inconceivable! Stephen Miller Attacks CNN Reporter Jim Acosta For His “Cosmopolitan Bias””
John Oliver has a clip posted of Stephen Miller’s speech when he ran for high school class president. Miller asks the students, “Like me, are you sick and tired of picking up your own trash, that’s what janitors are for.”
Entitled sociopaths are running the nation. Julian Assange whose data dumps helped elect Trump, offered a job to the fired Google engineer James Damore.
Short clips of events lose context. I haven’t seen the full text of the speech or a video of the complete speech so I have to rely upon people that actually heard him and report that it was a joke similar to the type of comedy provided by Stephen Colbert.
But, some, expand their personal visions so that they can litter the blog with phrases such as “entitled sociopaths”. One has to question those outbursts especially when those outbursts are seldom if ever accompanied by significant fact.
Acosta is a legend in his own mind. He is NOT a respected journalist.
The true meaning of the Statue of Liberty:
I disagree. “Cosmopolitan” was the perfect word to use. Thurstomm Howell III was cosmopolitan. Having “traveled extensively” (I.e. 1st class luxury vacations) he felt he understood the “locals” everywhere he went. He patronized them and condescended to them; relished their quaint customs and behaviors. Having received their “friendship” in exchange for his patronage, he thought himself a “man of the world” with the noblesse oblige to care for these poor unfortunates. On the other hand, a soldier and his family, who lived years in foreign lands would never describe themselves as “cosmopolitan.” Theyd never be so arrogant.
Your definition of “Cosmopolitan” reveals a basic misunderstanding of the “between the lines” meaning behind its use as an insult. While Thurston Howell (the 3rd) tried to appear cosmopolitan, he was not. (At least in your telling of his life). To be truly cosmopolitan, one feels at ease with different cultures and countries because the cosmopolitan realizes he or she shares more commonalities than differences. What Miller is doing here is reviving a Soviet-era derogatory term that was used during Stalin’s anti-Semitic campaign of the early 1950s. In essence pointing out that a person’s view are not sufficiently nationalistic, but instead excessively “worldly.” With this insult, Miller signaled where his personal agenda lies (feeding the rising tide of nationalism), and in which direction he would like the Trump administration to move – look to Stalin’s post-WWII Russia. It’s no wonder this administration has such admiration for Russia, it’s becoming clear that at least some of the warring factions in the administration see modern Russia as a model for how they would like to run the U.S. Be afraid!
Not only was their 10 minute argument bitchy…it didn’t advance any substance. The raise act concerns me because if I were a foreign govt who needed well placed spy….for gov or business…then now I got an avenue! Esp true in IT field. We shouldn’t disturb the ladder of the american dream by letting ppl in only if they are half way up. I suspect some ppl who love america the most and who would be the most loyal to here…are those like trump who owe all their success to her. Further it’s mean to take the best from other countries who need them….and they very process by which they’d abandone their own mother land speaks to their loyalty….they have none.
I think the answer to this probably lies in knowing what ‘cosmopolitan’ means in the current argot of the alt-right. The question is not what does ‘cosmopolitan’ mean; it’s what does it mean to neo-Nazis?
I guess it’s sort of charming that the Professor is so naive as to not be familiar with the fact that “cosmopolitan” is used among neo-Nazis an anti-Semitic slur. Essentially every neo-Nazi in America would recognize the word and be certain of Miller’s intent from the context of its use. Miller used the word in exactly the way neo-Nazis intend it. It’s amazing that Prof. Turley found the odd usage striking and wrote a whole column about it, but never connected it to Miller’s intended meaning. I value the Professor’s well-informed and intelligent skepticism to contrast the hyperventilating and exaggeration we see in some circles about the ongoing implosion of the Trump administration, such as his recent column “Gambino-Lite: Accusing Trump Of A Half-Truth Does Not Constitute A Whole Crime”.
But sometimes, like this column, Prof. Turley’s approach seems either oddly naive or willfully ignorant of just how problematic the Trump administration is. Trump re-tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton, cash and the “star of David” from a user with the twitter handle “WhiteGenocide” (referring to the current neo-Nazi hallucination/propaganda that “non white” people are being actively pushed into “the West” to destroy it culturally and to “pollute white genetics.” Trump in his speeches has hinted at this line of thinking, such as his famous wording calling immigrants to the US from Mexico “rapists and drug dealers” (except, perhaps, maybe a few who might be OK, he guesses… but isn’t certain.) He said “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.” It’s phrased as though there is an active organization and operation to intentionally “send” people to the US, not that it’s simply normal for human beings to migrate on their own towards more resources. During one of his debates with Hillary Clinton, Trump used wording as odd sounding as Miller’s “cosmopolitan.” Trump uttered the phrase “great migration.” In context, it appeared to be a reference to the large numbers of refugees and economic migrants trying to move to Europe away from the Middle East, Afghanistan and North Africa. He didn’t elaborate, but rather stuck in that phrase even though it appeared to be ill-defined and out of place. It appears to be a sort of “dog whistle” to neo-Nazis and their ilk who buy into this propagandistic, profoundly bigoted idea of a conspiracy to “pollute white DNA” and destroy “Western Civilization” through the influence of Islam, which they view in essentially the same way the Nazis viewed Judaism. More recently Trump delivered a speech in Europe, reportedly written by Miller, where the premise of the speech was this supposed existential threat to “the West” and in which Trump asked if there would be a triumph of the will to overcome this supposed threat…
The reality is that the Trump administration includes some people with shockingly bizarre racist/bigoted thinking, and Steven Miller is certainly among them. Dr. Sebastian “v” Gorka certainly appears to be another in his use of the “v” honorific signifying his membership in an ultra-Right Hungarian society. It sounds inconceivable to “polite society” people like the Professor and even myself, to think that actual neo-Nazis are working in the White House today, but they are not only present, but publicly announcing themselves through these somewhat obscure signifiers.
Does Donald Trump personally believe in these neo-Nazi ideas? As with everything, it’s hard to tell what he personally believes versus what he is happy to throw as red meat to the crowd for his own personal gain. Does Trump genuinely believe that Ted Cruz’ father was involved in teh JFK assassination? Or that the President of Mexico called him to compliment him on reducing illegal immigration? Or that Barack Obama was born in Kenya? Or that his own inauguration crowd was the largest in history? Or that all of the US intelligence agencies are lying when they say that Russia actively meddled in our most recent national election? Or anything? Regardless of what Trump genuinely believes, his “dog whistles” and policy stances appear to clearly reflect specific linguistic and conceptual details from the American neo-Nazi subculture.
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to do a google search for the word “cosmopolitan” looking specifically at neo-Nazi sites such as stormfront dot org to better understand the cultural and linguistic sources from which Mr. Miller was drawing when he used the word “cosmopolitan”.
Godwin’s law meter broken
If you remove the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand from the list, there are fifty countries where English is the primary language. In a number of those countries, English is the official language. BTW, the vast majority of the residents of those countries don’t have so-called “white privilege” because they are NOT WHITE.
Wow! I bet you had fun with what the definition of the word “is” during the Clinton impeachment era.
Can anyone point to to the Statue of Liberty in the Constitution? Funny, I thought the statue stood for freedom, not illegal aliens.
When I go to the grocery store there is always copies of Cosmopolitan on the rack. The rag certainly offers a point of view.
Acosta is a prime example of combo of ignorance and smugness !! Just another puppet of smug CEO of CNN , water fuses to its level !!
Having said that , I’m not in favor of Miller or anyone else giving a second to the worthless “reporters” of White House . They all need to be flushed away !
Wow, I have known for some time that JT is an ardent leftist, but I must admit that I was taken aback by his lack of understanding of basic ideas. However, as a public service, I will ‘splain for JT (and other leftists unfamiliar with facts, evidence, knowledge, and all those others things leftists despise).
Let’s start with some basics. The word “cosmopolitan” has within it, the related word “cosmos,” which is derived from the Greek to describe both the “universe” and a “system of thought.”
In the realm of politics, Miller more specifically was referring to a GLOBALIST perspective and bias. That’s basically what he was trying to say. However, he didn’t use that expression because it is a favorite of the so-called “alt-right” and he didn’t want to use that label, though it is an accurate and appropriate one that applies in Acosta’s case.
Nonetheless, I believe that Miller would have been better served by using a far more appropriate and versatile word that would still be 100% accurate: “Leftist.” In short, Miller should have just called Acosta exactly what he is: a leftist political hack and a presstitute. While some may think the term “leftist” too broad to fit so many people, the fact remains that it is the PERFECT word to accurately and precisely describe people who hold leftist views. And presstitute is the perfect word to describe the Acosta’s of this world.
Yeah I didn’t care for the cosmopolitan label either . Why it’s so hard to say that insmugness it must be hard to be flgtouvded in reality
Acosta may have BEEN a respected journalist in the PAST, but he is not so now. That is, unless you actually like the NWO attempts at taking down the USA Cloward & Piven ‘Strategy’ & Saul Alinsky ‘Rules For Radicals’ style. Acosta is now an obvious part of the take the USA down movement so we can then be forced into a total govt controlled state that the globalists would turn over as a vassal state to the one world government they so hunger for.
I though Miller was stellar. Fringe stream media needs a good retort & Miller did a grand job.
I for one am very tired of the media BS, Dimm & CINO obstruction & disrespect for how the USA was founded that comes from the Dimm regressive left.
I am with Point of View, Laurie, Ralph & curri. Jolly good, all of you.
Tinfoil is on sale today at the Piggly-Wiggly.
This is to “wily” fox
You come off as a “advocate for” Trump. You often attempt to secure your base at the Fox channel by deflecting each error by Trump “et al” into a conversation about Hillary Clinton, did I miss something, IS SHE THE PRESIDENT?
Have you noticed the disinformation by some of Turley’s commenters e.g. Ralph, which attempts to bizarrely, paint Turley with the “left” label? It’s a page right out of the Russian playbook.
Those sneaky Russians had their playbook leaked? I want a copy. Ralph, is it In pdf?
Olly, obviously Linda has it. Linda, can you email it to us?
It’s not on Amazon either FFS. Ralph’s a good guy, he might share a copy. But Linda, not so much.
Wikipedia states, “Rootless cosmopolitan was a pejorative label used during the anti-Semitic campaign in the Soviet Union after World War II. Cosmopolitans were intellectuals who were accused of expressing pro-Western feelings and lack of patriotism. The term “rootless cosmopolitan” referred to Jewish intellectuals.”
Miller probably doesn’t know the above information, but he’s using the term in a similar anti-intellectual sense. Few intellectuals, after all, voted for Trump, and to be an intellectual is not to be one of the “real” people.
Miller is a well educated intellectual form California. He knows.
“Cosmopolitan” is a nice euphemism for “anti-nationalist.” The Trump Administration is pretty clearly trying to rehabilitate American nationalism, which last made its appearance on the US political scene with the much-maligned America First Committee of 1940-41. American nationalism was replaced by liberal interventionist imperialism-which I think most of us have had our fill of after the failures of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
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