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Trump Explodes at CNN's Jim Acosta, Then Revokes His Press Pass
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8 Nov 2018 01:29 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jim Acosta (Image source: Screenshot)

 

Donald Trump was in a foul mood on Wednesday. Despite him touting that the GOP had won the midterm elections, it seems he doesn't really believe that. During a press conference he argued with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta and later, his press pass was revoked.

 

The president called on Acosta in the press conference, who said, "Thank you, Mr. President," then followed with, "I want to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign." 

Trump then said, "Here we go ..." just waiting for it. Acosta mentioned the migrant caravan and the ad Trump released over the weekend that CNN and Fox News refused to air, but that NBC aired during Sunday Night Football.

 

"As you know, Mr. President, the caravan is not an invasion," said Acosta. "It's a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S. —" 

With intended sarcasm, Trump replied, "Thank you for telling me that; I appreciate it."

 

Acosta asked, "Why did you characterize it as such?"  

Trump answered, "Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion."

 

This led to a back-and-forth argument, with Trump eventually saying, "Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings would be better." He then cut Acosta off when he tried to ask another question. 

A White House staff member tried to grab the mic away from Acosta and take it to Peter Alexander from NBC. Acosta tried to ask another question, just like other reporters had done.

 

Trump told him, "That's enough," and Acosta resisted the attempts to take the mic from him and asked a question about the Russia investigation and possible indictments. Trump indicated he didn't want to answer and backed away from the podium as Acosta asked his question again. 

Alexander started to ask his question, and Trump said, "I tell you want, CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them." He pointed directly at Acosta and said, "You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn't be working for CNN."

 

Trump then told Alexander to go ahead but turned back to Acosta again and said, "You are a very rude person; the way that you treat Sarah Huckabee Sanders is horrible. The way that you treat other people are [sic] horrible. You shouldn't treat people that way." 

When Alexander was finally allowed to speak, instead of asking a question, he defended Acosta. "I've traveled with him and watched him. He is a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us."

 

Trump then told him, "Well, I'm not a big fan of yours either, to be honest." Alexander tried to ask a question, but Acosta jumped back into it, with his comments not being heard completely since he didn't have the mic, but he did mention Trump's phrase, "enemy of the people." 

Trump replied, "When you report fake news, which CNN does, a lot, you are the enemy of the people."

 

The press conference continued on. A black correspondent for PBS "NewsHour," Yamiche Alcindor, asked the president about the view that his rhetoric emboldened white nationalists. 

"That's a racist question," Trump told her repeatedly.

 

She tweeted later, "I followed up the president calling my question 'racist' with a policy question about his proposed middle class tax cut because that's what journalists do. We press on. We focus on the privilege of asking questions for a living. We do the work." 

This could be why Trump rarely ever does press conferences. No one can challenge you face to face on Twitter. The negative comments are easier to ignore.

 

Sanders issued a statement later in the day stating that Acosta was stripped of his "hard pass" that gives him access to the grounds of the White House.  

"President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration," read the statement. She then accused Acosta of placing his hands on the White House staffer and saying it would not be tolerated. But anyone viewing video of the exchange can see she is grabbing the mic from him, and he is not touching her.

 

Sanders then showed she wasn't clear on what a free press is when she indicated Trump had given more press access than "any president in history." She added the greatest demonstration of that was the press event this fracas came from. 

"Only they would attack the president for not being supportive of a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of an hour and a half."

 

She added, "The 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. As a result of today's incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice." 

CNN issued a statement noting that revoking the pass "was done in retaliation for [Acosta's] challenging questions at today's press conference." They added that what Sanders accused him of never happened.

 

Other White House correspondents stood up for Acosta. "This is something I've never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning," tweeted Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times. 

The Washington bureau chief for The New York Times said, "The president should not pick and choose who covers him, and he should certainly not force out a representative of one of the country's leading news organizations, one that tens of millions of Americans depend on for their news."

 

"Journalists may use a range of approaches to carry out their jobs, and the WHCA does not police the tone or frequency of the questions its members ask of powerful senior government officials, including the president," said the White House Correspondents' Association in a statement.  

"Such interactions, however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions. We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action."

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