Trump acts to si­lence CNN’s ‘rude, ter­ri­ble per­son’

The Australian - - WORLD - CAMERON STE­WART WASH­ING­TON

An as­sertive Pres­i­dent and a de­ter­mined re­porter, each with lit­tle sleep af­ter the night be­fore, test­ing each other out on live tele­vi­sion at the White House in front of the world. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

Well ac­tu­ally, al­most ev­ery­thing.

Even by the con­fronta­tional stan­dards of Don­ald Trump’s war with his so-called fake me­dia, the show­down yes­ter­day be­tween the Pres­i­dent and CNN White House cor­re­spon­dent Jim Acosta was some­thing to be­hold.

Af­ter a late night for the Pres­i­dent and ev­ery Wash­ing­ton jour­nal­ist cov­er­ing the mid-term elec­tion re­sults the pre­vi­ous night, Mr Trump held a marathon press con­fer­ence dur­ing which he be­came in­creas­ingly frus­trated with the ques­tions fired at him by jour­nal­ists.

Then came Acosta, whose left­lean­ing net­work is a favourite tar­get of Mr Trump.

Acosta: Thank you, Mr. Pres­i­dent. I wanted to chal­lenge you on one of the state­ments that you made in the tail end of the cam­paign in the mid-terms, that this … Trump: Here we go. Acosta: Well, if you don’t mind, Mr Pres­i­dent …

Trump: Let’s go. Let’s go. Come on.

Acosta: That this car­a­van was an “in­va­sion”. As you know, Mr Pres­i­dent …

Trump: I con­sider it to be an in­va­sion.

Acosta: As you know, Mr Pres­i­dent, the car­a­van was not an in­va­sion. It’s a group of mi­grants mov­ing up from Cen­tral Amer­ica to­wards the bor­der with the US.

Trump: Thank you for telling me that. I ap­pre­ci­ate it.

From there it went down­hill as the Pres­i­dent, ag­i­tated by Acosta’s sug­ges­tion that he de­monised asy­lum-seek­ers head­ing to the US, said to the cor­re­spon­dent: “Hon­estly, I think you should let me run the coun­try, you run CNN … and if you did it well, your rat­ings would be much bet­ter.”

Acosta tried to ask a sec­ond ques­tion but the Pres­i­dent had had enough and moved on to an­other re­porter.

But Acosta did not sur­ren­der the mi­cro­phone and a White House in­tern leapt up to try to take it away from him. Their arms tan­gled for a split sec­ond, caus­ing Acosta to say “Par­don me, ma’am” as he re­sumed his ques­tion to the Pres­i­dent.

Then Trump snapped. “I’ll tell you what: CNN should be ashamed of it­self hav­ing you work­ing for them.

“You are a rude, ter­ri­ble per­son. You shouldn’t be work­ing for CNN.”

The press con­fer­ence moved on, but the ex­change did not.

That evening, as Acosta was en­ter­ing the White House for a live cross, the Se­cret Ser­vice ap­proach him and de­manded he hand in his White House press pass. Acosta filmed the mo­ment.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders said in a state­ment: “The White House is sus­pend­ing the hard pass of the re­porter in­volved un­til fur­ther no­tice.

“Pres­i­dent Trump be­lieves in a free press and ex­pects and wel­comes tough ques­tions of him and his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We will, how­ever, never toler- ate a re­porter plac­ing his hands on a young woman just try­ing to do her job as a White House in­tern. This con­duct is ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able.”

Acosta shot back at the ac­cu­sa­tion of mis­con­duct, tweet­ing “this is a lie”.

Video of the al­leged in­ci­dent did not back up the White House claims. The con­tact be­tween Acosta and the in­tern ap­peared be­nign and cer­tainly not ma­li­cious.

CNN said in a state­ment that the re­vo­ca­tion of Acosta’s pass “was done in re­tal­i­a­tion for his chal­leng­ing ques­tions at to­day’s press con­fer­ence”.

“This un­prece­dented de­ci­sion is a threat to our democ­racy and the coun­try de­serves bet­ter.”

Peter Baker, chief White House cor­re­spon­dent for The New York Times, said on Twit­ter: “This is some­thing I’ve never seen since I started cov­er­ing the White House in 1996. Other pres­i­dents did not fear tough ques­tion­ing.” P16

REUTERS

CNN cor­re­spon­dent Jim Acosta con­tin­ues with his ques­tion to Don­ald Trump as a White House in­tern tries to re­lieve him of the mi­cro­phone

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