The White House on Wednesday suspended the press pass of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta after he and President Donald Trump had a heated confrontation during a news conference.
They began sparring after Acosta asked Trump about the caravan of migrants heading from Latin America to the southern US border. When Acosta tried to follow up with another question, Trump said, ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs enough!‚ÄĚ and a female White House aide unsuccessfully tried to grab the microphone from Acosta.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement accusing Acosta of ‚Äúplacing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,‚ÄĚ calling it ‚Äúabsolutely unacceptable.‚ÄĚ
The interaction between Acosta and the intern was brief, and Acosta appeared to brush her arm as she reached for the microphone and he tried to hold onto it. ‚ÄúPardon me, ma‚Äôam,‚ÄĚ he told her.
BREAKING: President Trump, CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta and @NBCNews Correspondent @PeterAlexander engage in tense exchanges in post-election news conference. pic.twitter.com/WUlXemGn7y
‚ÄĒ NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
Acosta tweeted that Sanders‚Äô statement that he put his hands on the aide was ‚Äúa lie.‚ÄĚ
Journalists assigned to cover the White House apply for passes that allow them daily access to press areas in the West Wing. White House staff decide whether journalists are eligible, though the Secret Service determines whether their applications are approved.
The post-midterm election news conference marked a new low in the president‚Äôs relationship with journalists.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs such a hostile media,‚ÄĚ Trump said after ordering reporter April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks to sit down when she tried to ask him a question.
The president complained that the media did not cover the humming economy and was responsible for much of the country‚Äôs divided politics. He said, ‚ÄúI can do something fantastic, and they make it look not good.‚ÄĚ
His exchanges with CNN‚Äôs Acosta and NBC News‚Äô Peter Alexander turned bitterly personal, unusual even for a forum where the nature of their jobs often put presidents and the press at odds.
‚ÄúI came in here as a nice person wanting to answer questions, and I had people jumping out of their seats screaming questions at me,‚ÄĚ said Trump, who talked for nearly 90 minutes despite the run-ins with reporters.
Tonight the White House revoked @Acosta‚Äôs press pass. CNN‚Äôs response to @PressSec and @realDonaldTrump: pic.twitter.com/EY2iFLvP3P
‚ÄĒ CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018
Acosta asked Trump why the caravan of migrants was emphasized as an issue in the just-concluded midterm races. Acosta questioned Trump‚Äôs reference to the caravan as an invasion, and Trump defended the term.
‚ÄúYou should let me run the country,‚ÄĚ Trump said. ‚ÄúYou run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.‚ÄĚ
After Acosta asked about the investigation of Russia‚Äôs involvement in the 2016 election, Trump tried to turn to Alexander, but Acosta continued to ask questions.
‚ÄúCNN should be ashamed of itself having you work for them,‚ÄĚ the president said to Acosta. ‚ÄúYou are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn‚Äôt be working for CNN. The way you treat Sarah Sanders is horrible. The way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn‚Äôt treat people that way.‚ÄĚ
Alexander came to his colleague‚Äôs defense. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve traveled with him and watched him,‚ÄĚ Alexander said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not a big fan of yours, either,‚ÄĚ Trump replied.
‚ÄúI understand,‚ÄĚ Alexander said, attempting to ask a question. Acosta stood back up and began mentioning, without a microphone, the explosive devices that were recently sent to CNN and some of the president‚Äôs political opponents.
‚ÄúJust sit down,‚ÄĚ Trump said. ‚ÄúWhen you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.‚ÄĚ
After the exchange, CNN, through its public relations department‚Äôs Twitter feed, said Trump‚Äôs attacks on the press have gone too far.
‚ÄúThey are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,‚ÄĚ CNN said. ‚ÄúWhile President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.‚ÄĚ
In announcing Acosta‚Äôs suspension, Sanders said, ‚ÄúThe fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it is an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this administration.‚ÄĚ
‚Ä¶over the course of 1.5 hours including several from the reporter in question. The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it‚Äės an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration
‚ÄĒ Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
This is a lie. https://t.co/FastFfWych
‚ÄĒ Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
Trump made several references in his news conference to how he feels mistreated by the press. He said he‚Äôs damned by the press for having either too few, too many or just the right amount of press availabilities.
He turned specifically on reporter Yamiche Alcindor of PBS‚Äô ‚ÄúNewsHour.‚ÄĚ She said that ‚Äúon the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists.‚ÄĚ Trump interrupted her, calling it a racist question.
Alcindor pressed on: ‚ÄúThere are some people who say the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric. What do you say to that?‚ÄĚ
Trump talked about his supposed popularity with black Americans and said he‚Äôs more interested in advancing America‚Äôs interests than having a globalist point of view.
‚ÄúTo say that, what you said, is so insulting to me,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a very terrible thing you said to me.‚ÄĚ
Alcindor moved on to a different topic. Later, via Twitter, she said that she has interviewed white nationalists who say they are more excited by Trump than they have been about other presidents. ‚ÄúEven if President Trump doesn‚Äôt intend it, some see him as directly appealing to the racists,‚ÄĚ she wrote.
On CNN, anchor Jake Tapper said that there was nothing racist about her question and that Trump‚Äôs reaction was unfathomable.
Trump told Ryan, of American Urban Radio Networks, repeatedly to sit down when she attempted to ask Trump about accusations of voter suppression. He said she was rude for interrupting another reporter, though he did briefly answer one of Ryan‚Äôs questions.
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