Trump says he’ll boot re­porters who aren’t ‘re­spect­ful’

Santa Fe New Mexican - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael M. Grynbaum

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Fri­day that he might re­voke the cre­den­tials of ad­di­tional White House re­porters if they do not “treat the White House with re­spect,” lob­bing an­other threat at the news me­dia two days af­ter his ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­fec­tively black­listed CNN cor­re­spon­dent Jim Acosta.

Asked how long Acosta’s pass would be sus­pended, Trump replied, “As far as I’m con­cerned, I haven’t made that de­ci­sion. But it could be oth­ers also.”

The pres­i­dent made his com­ments while speak­ing with re­porters on the South Lawn be­fore board­ing Marine One.

“When you’re in the White House, this is a very sa­cred place for me, a very spe­cial place,” Trump said as he left Wash­ing­ton for a brief jaunt to Paris. “You have to treat the White House with re­spect. You have to treat the pres­i­dency with re­spect.”

The re­moval of Acosta’s cre­den­tial, fol­low­ing a tense news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day when the CNN cor­re­spon­dent ag­gres­sively ques­tioned Trump, has raised alarms among press free­dom groups who say the pres­i­dent is en­croach­ing on jour­nal­ists’ ba­sic right to cover the gov­ern­ment.

Aides to Trump said he was most both­ered by re­porters who, in his view, speak to him in a bel­liger­ent man­ner, and that his will­ing­ness to take ques­tions w makes him more open to scru­tiny than past pres­i­dents.

But Trump’s re­tal­i­a­tion against Acosta, but­tressed by a false claim that the cor­re­spon­dent had han­dled a fe­male White House in­tern roughly dur­ing the news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, has lit­tle prece­dent in the mod­ern White House.

On Fri­day, the pres­i­dent lashed out at Acosta again, call­ing him “a very un­pro­fes­sional guy.” He went on to in­sult other mem­bers of the White House press corps, in­clud­ing April Ryan, the cor­re­spon­dent for Amer­i­can Ur­ban Ra­dio Net­works and one of a small num­ber of African-Amer­i­can re­porters who cover the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“You talk about some­body that’s a loser; she doesn’t know what the hell she’s do­ing,” Trump said of Ryan, in an un­prompted di­a­tribe. “She gets pub­lic­ity and then she gets a pay raise or a con­tract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty. And she shouldn’t be. She shouldn’t be. You’ve got to treat the White House and the of­fice of the pres­i­dency with re­spect.”

Trump also laced into an­other African-Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Abby Phillip of CNN, who asked the pres­i­dent if he wanted the new act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral, Matthew Whi­taker, to “rein in” the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­ing led by the spe­cial coun­sel, Robert Mueller.

“What a stupid ques­tion that is,” the pres­i­dent replied to Phillip. “What a stupid ques­tion. But I watch you a lot — you ask a lot of stupid ques­tions.”

In a state­ment, CNN said that Phillip “did not ask a ‘stupid’ ques­tion to­day at the White House. In fact, she asked the most per­ti­nent ques­tion of the day.”

Trump, who rel­ishes joust­ing with re­porters, has of­fered tough words for jour­nal­ists of all races and gen­ders. In the past few days, though, he has in­sulted or replied harshly to sev­eral African-Amer­i­can women, in­clud­ing Ryan, Phillip and Yamiche Al­cin­dor, a White House cor­re­spon­dent for PBS.

At the Wed­nes­day news con­fer­ence, Trump re­peat­edly told Ryan to “sit down,” ac­cus­ing her of in­ter­rupt­ing a male re­porter, as she tried to ask a ques­tion about voter sup­pres­sion. When Al­cin­dor asked Trump about Repub­li­cans and white na­tion­al­ists, he called her query “a racist ques­tion.”

Ryan, speak­ing on CNN on Fri­day, said that the three pres­i­dents she cov­ered be­fore Trump “un­der­stood that re­porters were part of the un­der­pin­ning of this na­tion.”

“Some­times we ask ques­tions that they did not like, and maybe there would have been a bit of re­tal­i­a­tion and fight-back,” Ryan added. “But at the end of the day it was part of the Amer­i­can process.”

Olivier Knox, pres­i­dent of the White House Cor­re­spon­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion, said Thurs­day that his group had been lob­by­ing pri­vately for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­store Acosta’s press pass.

“It’s a pretty ba­sic prin­ci­ple that a pres­i­dent does not get to de­cide who cov­ers them,” Knox told Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio. “One of the things that I’ve heard from many col­leagues na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally is, es­sen­tially, if they can do this to­day to Jim, they can do it to­mor­row to some­body else.”

In trav­el­ing to Paris, Trump may es­cape the Wash­ing­ton press corps for a few days. But he will be re­united with Acosta, who is sched­uled to cover the trip for CNN.


CNN jour­nal­ist Abby Phillip asks Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump a ques­tion Fri­day as he speaks with re­porters on the South Lawn of the White House be­fore de­part­ing for France.

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