President Trump on Wednesday admonished CNN reporter Jim Acosta for “rude” behavior and ordered him to sit down during a heated exchange at the White House.
At a press conference, Mr. Acosta repeatedly asked the president about his tough stance against a U.S.-bound migrant caravan was “demonizing” immigrants. He then refused to give up the microphone.
“You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Acosta. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is horrible. And the way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
Mr. Trump later turned his ire on NBC’s Peter Alexander, saying he’s “not a fan” of the reporter.
He also shushed April Ryan, a prominent black reporter for American Urban Radio Networks, who stood up without being called on and challenged Mr. Trump to explain his rhetorical tone.
CNN has been one of Mr. Trump’s biggest targets for complaints about fake news.
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He and Mrs. Sanders, the White House press secretary, often clash with Mr. Acosta. But the press confrontation Wednesday was the hottest.
Mr. Acosta refused to let the president move on to the next question, wrestling away the microphone from a young female White House aide who attempted to pass it to another reporter.
He kept questioning the president about his midterm campaign ad that showed migrants scaling fences and barriers to illegally cross an international border on their way to the United States.
“They weren’t actors,” Mr. Trump said of the news footage in the ad. “It was true. Do you think they were actors? They didn’t come from Hollywood.”
Mr. Acosta insisted the migrant caravan was “not an invasion.”
Mr. Trump responded, “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN. And if you did it well your ratings would be much better.”
Mr. Acosta then refused to give up the microphone.
“Sit down,” ordered the president.
Mr. Acosta reluctantly surrendered the microphone to Mr. Alexander, who then offered a defense that his colleague is a “diligent” reporter.
“I’m not a big fan of yours either, to be honest with you,” Mr. Trump told the NBC reporter.
CNN called the president’s rebuke “un-American.”
“This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere,” the network said in a statement.
However, Sen. Lindsey Graham put the blame on the White House press corps.
“It’s apparent to me the White House press corps lives in a bubble and the way they are conducting themselves today will do nothing to improve their standing with the American people,” the South Carolina Republican said.
“Certain members of the press cannot stand the fact that President Trump and Republicans defied expectations in the midterm elections — actually growing our Senate majority.
He continued, “The mainstream press are not — in my opinion — ‘Enemies of the People’ but rather ‘Allies of the Democratic Party,’ playing an activist role in support of their agenda.”
• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.