CNN’s Acosta Won’t Let ‘Enemy of the People’ Go

White House correspondent demands press secretary disavow Trump's comment; 'we deserve that'

CNN star Jim Acosta demanded Thursday that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disavow President Donald Trump’s “enemy of the people” comment and then later complained on the network, “It’s not fair.”

Acosta (pictured above right) used his one question at the White House press briefing to confront Sanders (above left) about Trump’s characterization of the “fake news” media as the “enemy of the people.”

He noted that Sanders had reeled off a “laundry list” of complaints about news reports in response to another reporter’s question about first daughter Ivanka Trump’s statement that reporters are not the enemy of the people.

“But you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people,” Acosta said. “And I think it would be a good thing for you to say right here at this briefing that the press — the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials you brought forward earlier — are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.”

Sanders started to answer, but Acosta cut her off.

“I’m trying to answer your question,” Sanders responded. “I politely waited, and I even called on you despite the fact you interrupted me while calling on your colleague.”

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Sanders said it was ironic that media organizations complain about the president’s rhetoric when theirs often is so vicious. She noted that she personally was the target of Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who said on MSNBC that the press secretary deserved to be harassed as a “life sentence” for her association with Trump.

“When I was hosted by the [White House] Correspondents Association, of which nearly all of you are members, you brought a comedian up to attack my appearance and call me a traitor to my own gender,” she said.

“In fact, as far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection. The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration,” Sanders added.

Acosta said he was sorry that Sanders had been put “through the wringer,” which he added that everyone in Washington experiences.

“But for the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country — all the people around the world are watching what you’re saying, Sarah — and the White House of the United States of America, the president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the American people,” he said. “His own daughter acknowledges that, and all I’m asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.”

Acosta was not finished ranting. He told CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin after the briefing that journalists have no choice but to be adversarial with Trump because he “lies so much.” He suggested that journalists protest.

“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,'” he said.

“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. Honestly, Brooke, I’m tired of this. It is not right. It is not fair. It is not just. It’s un-American to come out here and call the press the ‘enemy of the people.'”

Rich Noyes, director of research at the conservative-leaning Media Research Center (MRC), said journalists are making themselves the story.

“They’re not acting like neutral, objective journalists,” he said.

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Noyes said he doubts most Americans care that much about the issue. But the more Acosta and other journalists complain about unfair treatment, he added, the more it plays into the president’s hands.

“For a long time, CNN has been using these briefings and this press secretary as props to promote their own chest-thumping campaign,” he said. “The more they fuss about it publicly and theatrically, the more it reinforces the impression that Trump is right.”

Noyes said journalists might be forgiven if they were reacting in the heat of the moment because they were caught unprepared for a provocative comment. But he noted Trump has been carrying on his anti-press campaign for his entire presidency.

“CNN has become the equivalent of a car alarm,” he said. “It is so loud and goes off so often that people don’t pay attention anymore.”

Trump himself got in the conversation tweeting a response to his daughter’s statement:

“They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!”

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