Trump acts to silence CNN’s ‘rude, terrible person’
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
CNN correspondent Jim Acosta continues with his question to Donald Trump as a White House intern tries to relieve him of the microphone