There's a standard story in recruiting where a candidate for a high-level position treats the receptionist poorly. As a result, the hiring manager rejects the candidate because anyone who treats a receptionist that way isn't the type of person you'd want to hire.

The modern, updated version of that is how Jim Acosta treated an intern and the President at a press conference. If you haven't seen a video, here's what happened.

Love him or hate him, President Trump is in charge at this press conference, and Acosta had asked his question and received an answer.  He actually received quite a long answer. But, a single answer wasn't what Acosta came for--it appeared that Acosta came prepared to debate and argue. The purpose of a press conference isn't to debate and argue--it's to get questions answered. The President answered and it was someone else's turn.

Acosta's treatment of the intern, assigned to take away the microphone, was ridiculous. It wasn't violent and it wasn't gender-based, as some have tried to turn this into a #metoo incident. But it was rude. And if he'll treat an intern this way, he's not the type of person you want working for you. He should be fired, or at a minimum, suspended. 

Acosta was unprofessional. For sure. He violated norms when he refused to sit down after his question. He violated norms when he attempted to debate rather than ask questions. And, he violated norms when he wouldn't give up the microphone.

President Trump, you say, is also rude. Absolutely. His snarky comment, "Honestly I think that you should let me run the country. You run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings will be much higher," was rude and unprofessional. Rest assured that CNN would certainly fire Trump if they could.

But, they have no authority over the president. They do, however, have authority over Acosta. And his behavior was unacceptable. 

We don't tolerate bad behavior at the office because we like the person who commits the bad behavior--this is precisely how things go south not only with bullying but with sexual harassment. When we're willing to look the other way because a co-worker or employee supports our agenda, we are sacrificing our integrity for our own purposes.

Several people are calling for all reporters to boycott White House press conferences over this whole thing. It's the wrong attitude to take. It demonstrates that they are biased. While all of us have biases, conscious and unconscious, a reporter should work hard to report the news without bias. 

This isn't a freedom of the press issue. No one stopped Acosta from reporting what happened, and certainly, videos are everywhere. Freedom of the press doesn't mean freedom to be a jerk at a press conference.  

Published on: Nov 12, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.