CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to tell White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders the press “deserved” for her to “acknowledge” that the “press is not the enemy of the people.” It did not go well for him.
He began, “And she asked you whether or not the press was the enemy of the people. You read off a laundry list of your concerns about the press and things you feel like are misreported, but you did not say the press is not the enemy of the people. And I think it would be a good thing if you were 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 like the ones you brought forward earlier, are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.”
Sanders responded, “I think the president has made his position known. I also think it’s ironic …” At which point Acosta began a series of interruptions, until Sanders finally says, “I politely waited, and I even called on you despite the fact that you interrupted me when I called on your colleague. I said it’s ironic …”
He then interrupted again. “Which is why I interrupted. If you finish, if you would not mind letting me have a follow-up, that would be fine.”
“It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country,” she began. “Repeatedly … repeatedly … the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger. The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your own network. Said I should be harassed as a life sentence. Said I should be choked.
“ICE officials are not welcome in their places of worship and personal information is shared on the Internet.
“When I was hosted by the Correspondents Association, of which almost all of you are members, you brought a comedian up to attack my appearance and call me a traitor to my own gender.
“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. And certainly, we have a role to play. But the media has a role to play for the discourse of this country as well.”
She then permitted Acosta his follow-up. “You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people,” he said. “Are we to take it from what you just said … we all get put through the wringer, we all get put in the meat grinder in this town, and you’re no exception and I’m sorry that happened to you and I wish that had not happened.
“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 … at 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 people. His own daughter acknowledges that, and all I’m asking you to do Sarah is to acknowledge that right now and right here.”
Sanders responded: “I appreciate your passion and I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”
The Washington Post reported this meant it is now “official White House policy: The media is the enemy of the people.”
“Four times in two days, Sanders refused to say that the media is not the enemy of the people or to condemn people who heckled a CNN reporter Tuesday in Tampa, to the point where he feared someone was going to get hurt,” it wrote.