Trump Calls CNN’s Jim Acosta a “Rude, Terrible Person” in Tense Exchange at Press Conference

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them.”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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Donald Trump escalated his personal feud with CNN correspondent Jim Acosta during a press conference Wednesday, calling the reporter “very rude” and saying that “CNN should be ashamed of itself” for employing him.

The awkward spat occurred during a White House press briefing where Trump took questions about the Republicans’ performance in the midterm elections and the prospect of a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. The exchange was tense from the start as Trump frequently interrupted Acosta, stepped away from the lectern, and ordered the reporter to “put down the mike.” 

“I think you should let me run the country while you run CNN,” Trump said at one point. “If you did it well, the ratings would be much better.” 

Acosta went on to ask if the president had concerns about “indictments coming down” in the investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting into possible election meddling between Russia and the Trump campaign. “That’s enough,” Trump replied as a staffer handed Acosta’s microphone to another reporter, NBC News‘ Peter Alexander.

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.” 

Acosta has frequently drawn the White House’s ire by passionately defending the press in a series of heated on-camera interactions with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. In August, Acosta asked Sanders to specifically denounce Trump’s repeated claim that journalists are the “enemy of the people.” She declined, instead saying, “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.” Acosta left the briefing in protest.

Since taking office, Trump has smeared mainstream news outlets as “fake news” and singled out reporters by name on Twitter and at rallies. As Mother Jones reported in September, “the targeting of journalists has steadily intensified in the Trump era, from organized campaigns of personal harassment to bomb threats and vows of assault, rape, and mass shootings.” Days before the midterm election, a Trump supporter who shared conspiracy theories online mailed a pipe bomb to CNN’s New York headquarters, in addition to the homes of several prominent Democrats. 

On Wednesday, NBC’s Alexander spoke out in defense of Acosta when the president called on him for a question. “I’ve traveled with him and watched him—he’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt.” 

“Well,” Trump replied, “I’m not a big fan of yours either.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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