Inconceivable! Stephen Miller Attacks CNN Reporter Jim Acosta For His “Cosmopolitan Bias”

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:

  1. a person familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures.
  2. a cosmopolitan person.
  3.  a cocktail

Miller_Brewery_Logo.svgI 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””

  1. Liberals and the MSM sycophants better get used to getting ripped new a-hole by this guy, who is also an a-hole, but smarter than anyone in that press corp.

    He’s Trump’s Carville w/o the accent and w/ about 20 more IQ points. They are equals in biting wit.

  2. Unworthy of analysis. “Cosmopolitan” is merely a trigger word for rural voters to agree, by default. More simplistic pandering.

    1. More simplistic pandering.

      From someone who never lets a nuanced judgment see the light of day. Thanks for the education.

  3. Unfortunate choice of words, but we get his drift: Acosta is a Latino racist, who wants to see the Reconquista in his lifetime. There is nothing in the proposal that you won’t find in Canada’s immigration system.

  4. Is “cosmopolitan” anything like “hyphenate?”

    Do the Chinese communists permit mortal immigration that “fundamentally transforms” the state?

    If I go to China, will I be Chinese?

    If I go to China will I speak Chinese?

    Is there “Affirmative Action Privilege” in the glorious People’s Republic of China?

    Ben Franklin, we gave you “a republic, if you can keep it.”

    The inmates have taken over the asylum.

    1. Incoherent, again. So, you want the United States to emulate the PRC?

      this is to riddler george

      1. Thanks for reading.

        They say “reading” is the sincerest form of flattery.

  5. A lot of silliness. Once someone throws the Staute of Liberty poem in your face, a disingenuous, “loaded” way of asking an otherwise reasonable question, there’s not much that can be done if you feel you have to evade the question about “your poor” and “your tired”. They were both simply baiting one another with their own conceptions of “gotcha” questions..

    A more direct answer, mercifully leaving out cosmopolitan – elite – elitist altogether, would be that there are a lot of “poor” and “tired” people here already and that oceans more of them wouldn’t necessarily solve anywhere near as many problems as doing so “in place” now that pretty much the whole globe is over populated.

    The elephant in the room that can’t be mentioned is that If we stop meddling militarily, or for that matter at all, in the affairs of every damned country in the world, we probably won’t have to deal with the vast populations of people we create in the rubble we leave behind who are simply looking to survive. And no, that does not mean no foreign policy.

    1. And Professor Turley is correct; the dog whistle, “Cosmopolitan” is thin gruel indeed to throw out to the red neck part of the base. In terms of being well traveled and moving in high circles, Trump is as cosmopolitan as they come, and being as crude as only an American can be while also being one of the .01% elite, does not count -in the least – as being anti-cosmopolitan.

      1. And Professor Turley is correct; the dog whistle, “Cosmopolitan” is thin gruel indeed to throw out to the red neck part of the base.

        If it helps you feel better, go with that.

        In the actual social world in which we live, evangelicals are pretty much bottom of the list regarding antagonism to Jews and the South has never been a particularly anti-Semitic region. There actually is no social group notable for anti-semitism other than recent Muslim immigrants (and some absurdly narrow configurations, like ‘black lawyers’). It’s an idiosyncratic phenomenon.

        1. I believe there is a lot more anti-Semitism than I think you believe. Look all around the world. There are many places I could refer you to but will mention a small one, CAMERA since they exist to correct the news media and others.It’s difficult to assess eangelicals. I don’t believe they are at the bottom.

    2. The elephant in the room that can’t be mentioned is that If we stop meddling militarily, or for that matter at all, in the affairs of every damned country in the world, we probably won’t have to deal with the vast populations of people we create in the rubble we leave behind who are simply looking to survive. And no, that does not mean no foreign policy.

      This is a fantasy.

      1. No it’s not. Your authoritarian dystopia is the fantasy, one that is shared by a lot of similar “bodily juices” type whacos, some in high places, and one that constantly puts the whole of humanity at risk of nuclear holocaust purely for the benefit of a few filthy rich robber barons.

        It would be difficult politically, but otherwise entirely possible to implement a rational posture of self defense and intervention based primarily (I do not say entirely) on actual geographical and physical threat and not simply perceived economic threats to our transnational financial elite(ists). We already spend almost as much as all other countries combined on our military capability and can easily afford to step lightly in foreign affairs AND reduce our military expenditures at the same time. Such expenditures, btw, of human and financial resources, simply can not be maintained; they will ultimately produce nothing of intrinsic value but global resentment and our eventual collapse whether in a cloud of nuclear smoke or through the same inevitable forces that brought the reality of over extension the to the gates of Rome.

        1. Also, trade agreements that are truly mutually advantageous, need some, but not all that much “police” power, beyond the various international bodies that already exist, to back them up.

        2. Why does one think that our military program has to be considered an all or none phenomenon. There is a middle ground. We interfered in too many threats that weren’t existential yet where we have not used the military we have seen countries such as North Korea arm with nuclear weapons soon to be followed by Iran. China is militarily moving off its coast and Russia is moving south and east along with one area on the Mediterranean. Venezuela’s relationship with a soon to be nuclear Iran is troublesome and could become a “Cuba” in the western hemisphere.

          The reason trade amongst various countries has developed so efficiently for many nations is that our navy has kept the waters safe. That has helped increase our wealth and the wealth of all countries. We will always have an expensive military as long as we are a superpower and if we are not the superpower we have to consider who will replace the power vacuum.

          1. North Korea has reacted every time a US president has threatened it as Trump did, pretty much purely for ratings. When unthreatened, they have largely remained quiescent. The biggest problem N. Korea represents to the US (beside Trump’s ego) is that it remains a loud call to all nations that if they want to be something other than be a vassal state to the the US, they must implement their own nuclear program. Trump is making sure every country in the world understands that completely. Otherwise, sooner or later, but inevitably, the US will depose their leader, particularly if he or she has been elected by the people (as in Iran) and will install a compliant dictator more to the US’s liking.

            Iran’s biggest sin is that it is a democracy, just about the only one in the Mideast since it is just about the only one we havn’t recently invaded militarily or economically. I say recently, since we are the ones who installed the Shah of Iran in 1953. CIA-assisted coup overthrows [democratically elected] government of Iran

            Same for Venezuela. If our robber barrons were not desperately meddling in their affairs so as to scoop up the profitable oil concessions, they would be doing a lot better than they are -though they would still have serious problems. As it is, they are largely just looking to protect themselves from the US and it’s corporate interests in any way they can.

            Our Navy ships are out there solely to protect American perceived interests. Those are not your interests, or at least I very much doubt it. They are not my interests. They are the interests of our robber barons. You may think that fine. You certainly never see it or it’s results. But a lot of countries that would otherwise not wish us any harm in the least DO NOT agree.

            1. Brooklyn, Trump threatened N. Korea and suddenly we see ballistic missiles being launched etc. and it appears you are blaming Trump. Do you really believe that from the time Trump threatened them that N. Korea did their research, development, built the missiles and then launched them? Of course not.

              “Iran’s biggest sin is that it is a democracy,” Really?

              I won’t try to change your position which I consider to lack a lot of knowledge about world affairs.

    3. One thing Acosta & others who use the Statue of Liberty poem to shame us who want immigration control seem to always forget: Lady Liberty is at the FROHT DOOR, NOT on the southern border.


      1. A poem embossed onto a statue is not substantive law. It’s “Statute” not “Statue” that is relevant.

  6. Will a dictionary be required to understand, “Acosta got pimp slapped in this exchange.” He did not understand the topic and when he was getting his ass kicked brought up his Cuban immigrant father. Good bet his old man doesn’t abide Obama’s bending over to Castro.

    As has been pointed out, this new US policy mimics that of Canada. Those Canadians have immigration that considers their own citizens primarily, and now ours does as well. WTF is the problem w/ that??

  7. Preamble –


    Naturalization Act of 1790 –


  8. Funny, I understood exactly what he meant and was glad that someone had invented a term for the supercilious Left/Right Coast, narrow minded, bigoted elite that live above the results of their own inane policies and their adolescent quest for ideological purity. Yeah..”Cosmopolitan bias” works for me.

    1. Christine, Absolutely. JT is trying to be judicious. He dislikes the politics and demeanor of Miller, and the demeanor of Acosta. So, this is how he dealt w/ this exchange. Acosta has been grandstanding, particularly since he got divorced and is “peacocking” for a new woman.

      1. He’s reportedly infatuated with Kimberly Guilfoyle of Fox News, but so far, she hasn’t expressed any interest in him. And I doubt that his performance today impressed her. Doesn’t Acosta know that English is the official language of both India and Hong Kong?

    2. You’re wasting time here, maw! We got a fence down on the north forty, and the crick done washed the bridge out.

      This is to flyover-flower chrissy

    3. Christine, aren’t these supercilious elitists, like say the pope,…don’t most of those who oppose the border wall reside behind walls & fences around their abodes?

      Nothing like a little Al Gore two face double tongue hypocrisy to muddle things.


    1. To imply Miller is mimicking Stalin is stupid on its face. And the antisemitic accusation is just plain stupid. Miller is a Jew. But I see the talking points have been sent. Get used to it. Miller, whether you love or hate him, is brilliant and does not dance.

      “Life’s hard, wear a f@cking helmet.” Denis Leary

        1. Liberals are the worst antisemites and racists. If a Jew or black person don’t toe the party line then they are hit w/ both barrels.

      1. “Life’s hard, wear a f@cking helmet.” Denis Leary

        Words of wisdom from my favorite Worcester home-boy.
        The presser and the beat down were refreshing.

  9. They threw softballs to Obama so now they try to make hay out of everything this administration does. Acosta is trying to grandstand at these gatherings and CNN continues along a foolish path. CNN should get into reporting the news not their political agenda. Does CNN really think they are helping themselves with the average American.

    1. Clam, The MSM has derision for the average American. They are preachin’ to elitists and COSMOPOLITANS.

      1. Steven Miller is from a very elite Santa Monica CA family.

        And here I thought it was an exceptionally elite Santa Monica CA family. Hopefully that doesn’t diminish the point he made.

  10. If you’re not understanding himself, it’s because you live in a bubble. To people following the debate, it’s familiar.

    Being ‘cosmopolitan’ is not a good thing. There is no such thing as a ‘citizen of the world’. People who proclaim themselves as such are proclaiming themselves members of a special dispensation over and above the general populace of the country in which they are citizens. Contemporary cosmopolitanism (see some of the fellows at the Mercatus Center for examples) are loyal to their own class across an array of affluent countries, not to the technicians who fix the HVAC systems in their offices.

    Being ‘cosmopolitan’ does not necessarily mean knowledgeable. There is a nine-digit population on the Indian subcontinent who are conversant in English. Were we to require antecedent English proficiency for issuing a settler’s visa (and we should), the smart money says that 1/3 of the visas will be issued to natives of the subcontinent. The cosmopolitan Mr. Acosta hasn’t a clue.

    1. So, l’m reading here that Christ was an old-school Cosmo by this line of thinking (i.e, “contemporary” Cosmos appear to categorically reject His teachings). Now I’m wondering how many of the “people following this debate” — guess you mean those who don’t know the dog whistle code-word here — also identify as “Christian.” Wouldn’t any true Christian welcome the opposite of the way you define “contemporary cosmopolitanism? I say JC would embrace the guy who comes to fix his HVAC just as he would pretty much anyone else. That’s my takeaway from TSOTM anyway.

      1. So, l’m reading here that Christ was an old-school Cosmo by this line of thinking

        If fantasy and silly reductionism helps you feel better, fine. Just don’t bother the adults with it.

        1. Susan, for real! How did BMW morph this into an attack on Christ? Talk about a stretch.

          “If fantasy and silly reductionism helps you feel better, fine. Just don’t bother the adults with it.”

          Well said.


    2. JT is going to have to expand his dictionary searches and include other dictionaries such as the Urban dictionary. I’m with you as far as the interpretation goes.

      Cosmopolitan: Liberal elitist hipster: That is so horrible that MacDonald’s is everywhere in the world. They are breaking down indigenous culture and traditional folkways. Monoculture everywhere! It is sickening. (Moments later) It is so wonderful that we are breaking down backward ways of life in the American South and any other traditional culture. We want to spread the cosmopolitan ethos everywhere. I am a citizen of the world!

  11. First, I would like to take this moment to thank you for referring to my absolute favorite comedy of all time, The Princess Bride. I can repeat almost every line from the movie as I have learned them by heart.

    I think he meant to say that he was biased from being a coastal elite.

    Our immigration policies have been a complicated matter for me. Many Americans want to emulate the high levels of benefits in some European countries, like Switzerland, but those countries have extremely difficult hurdles to immigration. If I recall correctly, you have to reside under a visa in Switzerland, as a law abiding guest, for at least a decade before being qualified to apply for citizenship. You have to show you have a job and the ability to support yourself before you are allowed to live there. There are allowances for refugees, but by and large, they cannot afford to have unfettered immigration and maintain that level of social services.

    I personally believe we should continue to allow people of all socioeconomic strata to emigrate to America. We have the American Dream that a lucky few would be given the chance to realize. I say “few” because in reality, there are 7.442 billion people in the world and 323.1 million people in the US. There is literally not enough room for everyone to move here, unless we want to make a Coruscant out of every square inch of America, lose all open space, collapse our environment and benefits system, have every single wild animal go extinct, import all of our food and water, and invent air scrubbers to clean the air from concentrating all those people in one place. It’s not going to happen. We can literally only offer a place to a teeny tiny fraction of the people who want to come here. And of that teeny tiny fraction, we must ensure that we only give those coveted spots to the good, hardworking, deserving people who will accept our value system, including religious tolerance and women’s rights. Do we really want to tell the struggling college student in Thailand that his spot needs to go to a wife beater? I don’t.

    I also believe that the US must periodically review its immigration policies and determine its effect on its citizens, environment, and infrastructure. If it determines, for instance, that the H1-B visa program is devaluing wages and the job market for STEM jobs, then that program needs to be reworked. If everyone who comes over is unskilled, and they are taking too high a percentage of the entry level jobs, then that can affect the start in life for our citizens. Then that would need to be reworked. Conversely, if everyone who came over was college educated, and out competed our own college graduates, so that our citizens suffered at the expense of our guests, then we would need to tip the balance more towards unskilled labor.

    We should be periodically adjusting the quantity and/or the requirements to balance our compassion with the outside world with our responsibility to our citizens and environment.

    Our land is finite. Our resources are finite. Our funds for social benefits are finite. We must be adaptive. There will be ebbs, flows, and changes. We must ensure those are fare. Frankly, I have been concerned with our population growth for a while. There are problems with population decline as in Japan, but conversely, one of the very reasons why mankind has had such an impact on the planet and our resources is that we have outgrown our resources in some areas. Look at what’s happening in Saudi Arabia. They have exhausted thousand year aquifers, where water that’s reaching the aquifer today still thinks that the Romans are in power. But the population of the desert has expanded. They’ve tried to grow wheat and raise dairy, and now vast aquifers have collapsed. That’s what happens when growth outstrips resources. Same thing happens when ground squirrels or prairie dogs overrun a place, overgraze it, cause erosion, and the environment changes from more lush to more desert.

    Immigration should be compassion while responsible to our citizens, country, and environment. We are not morally obligated to make one massive continuous city from East to West to house every one in the world. That would be an environmental disaster.

    1. Our land is finite. Our resources are finite. Our funds for social benefits are finite.

      Population density is not at issue. Politics and culture are.

      1. That was in response to the argument to determine the quantity of immigrants we may receive, not the qualifications aspect. The argument for illegal immigration is that many are great people. We could get 3 billion great people here, and they would still overwhelm our resources. That is why we need to solidify our border and decide what number we can absorb without an unstable population growth.

        As you’ve mentioned, culture is also a contributor to quantity. A few people from an area infamous for abuses of women could be folded into the American culture and assimilate, or people could be selected who are most open to our ideas, but vast quantities would tend to hold onto the values of the motherland. That’s a problem when the values of newcomers are so completely at odds with those of the host country.

    2. I’ve got it! He should have coined the term “elitist provincial” to refer to those who live in uniform, privileged societies completely out of touch with the middle class.

    1. No kidding, Lloyd. Acosta is a whiny, narcissistic, rude ignoramus. They need to turn the cameras back off until he leaves.

      And I am beyond disappointed in Turley’s nit-picking the words Miller used, as opposed to the totally inappropriate grandstanding by Acosta.

      1. Turley, unlike what some on this blog think, IMO is left of center. How far left I don’t know. However, he is not so left of center that he distorts the law like we have seen Tribe do.

  12. I watched the exchange and I seriously doubt anyone with an objective opinion needed a dictionary to understand the point being made by Miller.

    1. The JT’s of the snob set are seriously cracking me up – seems “the vapors” are back in vogue with this crowd.

  13. It was an exchange characterized by major omissions of fact on both sides. “English” is a required part of the naturalization exam, but only in the most cursory of ways. “Grading” of the exam is done very much on the basis of whether or not the English words are “capable of being understood.” The exam does not look for polish, subtlety, or nuance. Additionally, there many outright exclusions which make the requirement for understandable English entirely moot. Thirdly, many people coming to the USA from non-English speaking countries learn English as a second or third language while in school in their home countries. Acosta showed absolutely NO indication he had given the subject any thought whatsoever, feeling perhaps that emoting on the topic would be enough to sway his fellow “journalists.”

  14. Yes, to us cosmopolitan would have a positive meaning. In the mouth of the speaker it was meant as a derogation. In a debate one should define terms so as to ensure the argument is happening in a common language. Miller’s definition of the term is not the same as yours or mine.

    1. Make no mistake, Miller is an ascerbic, a-hole in many respects. But he’s whip smart and will chew up and spit out these dull/normal reporters.

    1. Believing that someone is an elitist does not make one a Nazi.

      Deliberately branding patriotism or civic duty with the more sinister term of “nationalism” is an ad hominem effort to undermine discussion. You do not discus immigration difficulties with a Nazi. Conversation closed.

      A lot of voters tired of being told they were evil if they opposed illegal immigration, opposed Obamacare, or in any other way opposed the ultra Liberal agenda.

    2. “One reason why ‘cosmopolitan’ is an unnerving term is that it was the key to an attempt by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to purge the culture of dissident voices. In a 1946 speech, he deplored works in which ‘the positive Soviet hero is derided and inferior before all things foreign and cosmopolitanism that we all fought against from the time of Lenin, characteristic of the political leftovers, is many times applauded.’” Thanks for the link.

    3. For Pete’s sake, the incessant claims of racism by the establishment Dem mouthpieces are really becoming insufferable. Stephen Miller is Jewish. Are we to believe he is a self-loathing Jew? Or does he just hate other Jews? Is Acosta a Jew?
      I repeat: ham-fisted attempts by the Dems to paint Trump and his WH as the source of all evil. ‘Cause the Dems obviously can’t gather enough gray matter together to discuss anything of substance.

      Does anyone on the left have the spine to answer the question that obviously stumped bobble-head Acosta at the presser: what level of immigration would you support?

      1. Cape Cod, He’s a conservative Jew so in the minds of liberals he is not a real Jew. There was a liberal DJ in Madison w2ho called Condy Rice “Aunt Jemima” all the time. Same w/ black people, if you’re conservative then you are a house negro in their hate filled minds.

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