Trump dou­bles down on me­dia in­vec­tives, threats

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - NEWS - DAVID BAUDER JONATHAN LEMIRE

U.S Pres­i­dent dis­putes claim White House dis­trib­uted doc­tored video of CNN’s Jim Acosta, menaces oth­ers with ban­ish­ment

Be­fore hop­ping on a plane to Paris on Fri­day, U.S. Pres­i­dent Donald Trump in­sulted some more re­porters, threat­ened that oth­ers may have their White House cre­den­tials pulled, as hap­pened to CNN’s Jim Acosta, and dis­puted re­ports that his press sec­re­tary spread a doc­tored video of Mr. Acosta’s en­counter with a White House in­tern.

Mr. Trump said “no­body ma­nip­u­lated” a video dis­trib­uted by White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders that showed Mr. Acosta re­sist­ing an in­tern’s at­tempt to take a mi­cro­phone from him dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day. A video ex­pert had told the As­so­ci­ated Press that the video ap­peared doc­tored to speed up Mr. Acosta’s arm move­ment and make his ges­ture ap­pear more threat­en­ing; the White House used that en­counter to jus­tify pulling Mr. Acosta’s cre­den­tials.

“It wasn’t doc­tored,” the Pres­i­dent said. “They gave a close-up view. That’s not doc­tor­ing.”

Abba Shapiro, an in­de­pen­dent video pro­ducer hired by the As­so­ci­ated Press to com­pare the footage tweeted by Mr. Shapiro with the AP’s coverage of the news con­fer­ence, said the al­ter­ation made was “too pre­cise to be an ac­ci­dent.”

Two late-night comics, Stephen Col­bert and Jimmy Kim­mel, both said on their shows on Thurs­day that Ms. Huck­abee San­ders should be fired for her ac­tion.

“The fact that the White House press sec­re­tary is pro­mot­ing this doc­tored video is rep­re­hen­si­ble, and grounds for dis­missal,” Mr. Col­bert said.

While Mr. Trump called the re­porter who asked about the video “dis­hon­est,” that was mild com­pared to his treat­ment of April Ryan, a White House cor­re­spon­dent for Amer­i­can Ur­ban Ra­dio Net­works, and CNN’s Abby Phillip.

Ms. Phillip asked Mr. Trump whether he wanted Matt Whi­taker, the newly ap­pointed act­ing At­tor­ney-Gen­eral, to rein in spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

“What a stupid ques­tion you asked,” Mr. Trump replied. “What a stupid ques­tion, and I watch you a lot and you ask a lot of stupid ques­tions.”

In re­sponse, CNN said through its Twit­ter feed that Ms. Phillip’s ques­tion wasn’t stupid. “In fact, she asked the most per­ti­nent ques­tion of the day,” CNN said. Mr. Trump’s in­sults “are noth­ing new. And never sur­pris­ing,” CNN said.

The at­tack on Ms. Ryan was un­pro­voked, al­though the Pres­i­dent had ap­peared up­set at Wed­nes­day’s news con­fer­ence when Ms. Ryan stood up and asked him, with­out a mi­cro­phone, about voter sup­pres­sion in the midterm elec­tions. Ms. Ryan wasn’t among Mr. Trump’s ques­tion­ers on Fri­day.

“I watch her get up,” he said on Fri­day. “I mean, you talk about some­body that’s a loser, she doesn’t know what the hell she’s do­ing. She gets pub­lic­ity, and then she gets a pay raise, or she gets a con­tract with, I think CNN. But she’s very nasty, and she shouldn’t be.”

Ms. Ryan be­came a CNN con­trib­u­tor last year. She said on the net­work that the three presidents she cov­ered prior to Mr. Trump may not have liked every ques­tion she asked, but un­der- stood why she did so.

“At the end of the day, it was part of the Amer­i­can process, it was part of what our found­ing fa­thers put in place for the ac­count­abil­ity of the pres­i­dent of the United States,” she said. “This Pres­i­dent seems not to like it, so there­fore I’m a loser.”

Be­tween Ms. Ryan, Ms. Phillip and Yamiche Al­cin­dor of PBS’s NewsHour, that makes three black, fe­male re­porters that the Pres­i­dent dealt with harshly in the past three days. Mr. Trump on Wed­nes­day ac­cused Ms. Al­cin­dor of ask­ing a racist ques­tion when she in­quired about the Pres­i­dent re­ceiv­ing sup­port from some white na­tion­al­ists.

Mr. Trump said he hadn’t made a de­ci­sion when asked by a re­porter how long Mr. Acosta would re­main in the “penalty box.” But he said there could be oth­ers.

“When you’re in the White House, this is a very sa­cred place to be,” he said. “This is a very spe­cial place. You have to treat the White House with re­spect. You have to treat the pres­i­dency with re­spect.”

Olivier Knox, pres­i­dent of the White House Cor­re­spon­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion’s board met on Thurs­day with Ms. Huck­abee San­ders and White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Bill Shine for what it ex­pected to be a se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions about Mr. Acosta’s sta­tus.

De­spite los­ing his White House pass, and the abil­ity to travel with Mr. Trump and the rest of the press corps on Air Force One, Mr. Acosta went to Paris to cover the Pres­i­dent’s meet­ing with world lead­ers this week­end.

He tweeted a photo of him­self stand­ing in front of the Eif­fel Tower early on Fri­day.


U.S. Pres­i­dent Donald Trump clashes with CNN jour­nal­ist Abby Phillip as she at­tempts to ask him a ques­tion on the South Lawn of the White House on Fri­day. Mr. Trump had Ms. Phillip’s CNN col­league Jim Acosta’s White House press clear­ance re­voked ear­lier this week.

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