CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta appeared on CNN’s “Newsroom,” Thursday and discussed his encounter with Sarah Sanders during a news briefing where she refused to agree with him that the press is not the “enemy of the American people.”
Acosta began his line of questioning by saying that journalists “deserved” a reassurance that their work was valued by the President, and it would be a “good thing” if she would refute a label Trump first gave the press in January 2017, and never backed down from.
But Sanders would not take the bait, stating that Trump has “made his position clear,” but before she could get any further, Acosta began to ask another follow-up.
Sanders exploded, accusing the CNN correspondent of interrupting, and butting in to ask his question in the first place.advertisement - story continues below
Sanders then went on the offensive, accusing the press of “lowering the level of conversation in this country,”making “inciting anger” and “making personal attacks.”She then reminded Acosta that she is the first White House press secretary to require security protection, and brought up the press decision to use a comedian during the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, Michelle Wolff, who dedicated a significant part of her set to jabbing at Sanders.
Having tried to interject several times during Sanders’ answer, at least some of which she appears to have made notes for in advance, Acosta insisted again that Sanders refute the enemy line, which she refused.
While the 90-minute briefing was less than ten minutes away from wrapping up anyway, Acosta later tweeted that he walked “saddened” by a “shameful” performance.
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I walked out of the end of that briefing because I am totally saddened by what just happened. Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn't do it. Shameful.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 2, 2018
Acosta walked out of the briefing in protest, although he returned to tell CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin afterward it was a sad moment.
“Sadly, Brooke, I think what you saw happen here at the end of that briefing was the true feelings of the president, the true feelings of many of the people that work in this administration laid bare,” Acosta said. “They believe … that the journalists who cover this White House, the journalists who work in this city, who were just trying a few moments ago to hold some of these officials accountable about attacks on our democracy, that the people here who work at this White House all the way up to the president evidently believe that journalists are the enemy of the people. Literally, the enemy of the people.”
Except for Ivanka Trump, Baldwin noted, the Free Beacon reported.advertisement - story continues below
Acosta said he gave Sanders “several opportunities to set the record straight,” and she refused. Sanders noted she receives Secret Service protection because of threats she has received, and while he sympathized, Acosta said she and Trump continued to regularly tell lies and needed to be fact-checked.
“I’ll say that the press is not the enemy of the people,” Acosta said. “And, you know, I think maybe we should make some bumper stickers, make some buttons, you know, maybe we should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue like these folks who chant ‘CNN Sucks and ‘Fake News,’ maybe we should go out, all journalists, should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue and chant, ‘We’re not the enemy of the people.'”
“Because I’m tired of this,” he went on. “Honestly, Brooke, I’m tired of this. It is not right. It is not fair. It is not just. It is un-American to come out here and call the press the enemy of the people, and Ivanka Trump knows that. I don’t know why her father doesn’t, and I don’t know why this press secretary doesn’t. I mean, she got yelled at at a restaurant in Virginia. I’m sorry about that. I feel badly for her that happened. That comedian at the correspondent’s dinner said some unpleasant things about her. I’m sorry about that. She ought to hear some of the things that were said to me the other night in Tampa … It would be nice if we all lowered the temperature a little bit but at the very least, I think we should all be able to agree on one thing, and that is the press is not the enemy of the people. Fellow Americans are not the enemy of fellow Americans, and, you know, forgive me for going on a rant, but I think that they’ve lost sight of that here at this White House.”
Baldwin said “Amen” to Acosta’s speech and appreciated “this is personal for you.”