“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders said in a statement this evening. “We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”
Acosta responded online quickly, calling Sanders assertion “a lie.” Even a brief glance at footage of the incident in question clearly shows Acosta this morning was rather gently trying to keep the microphone in his own hands at first to continue pursuing his query with Trump:
CNN backed its reporter tonight and said in a statement that “Jim Acosta has our full support The Ted Turner founded outlet added that Acosta’s pass was pulled “in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference” and not over a “fraudulent …incident that never happened.”
“This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better,” CNN asserted.
NBC News’ Josh Lederman called the White House’s actions “a major escalation in Trump’s campaign against the press.” CNN producer Allie Malloy spoke up for her colleague as well:
This is a complete lie. The woman grabbed Jim’s arm repeatedly. He never once touched her. In fact at one point @Acosta tells her politely “pardon me, mam” as she’s yanking on his arm. https://t.co/Mfh3Ol5Q46
— Allie Malloy (@AlliemalCNN) November 8, 2018
Another journalist who knows a thing or two about getting on the wrong side of more than one occupant of the Oval Office weighed in as well:
News the White House pulled Jim @Acosta’s credentials is not an attack on one journalist but all of the press. There should be complete solidarity. This is a moment for any Republican who says they believe in the Constitution to stand up.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) November 8, 2018
Heading to the Executive Mansion for an 8 PM ET segment, Acosta found out earlier what had happened from a security guard.
I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
The US Secret Service just asked for my credential to enter the WH. As I told the officer, I don’t blame him. I know he’s just doing his job. (Sorry this video is not rightside up) pic.twitter.com/juQeuj3B9R
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
After Sanders’ initial claim, the second-most public face of the administration after Trump himself got to the heart of the matter that played itself out on TV this morning when Acosta tried to press the president on-air
“It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question,” added the WH Press Secretary. “President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history. Contrary to CNN’s assertions, there is no greater demonstration of the President’s support for a free press than the event he held today,” she stated. “Only they would attack the President for not being supportive of a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of an hour and a half – including several from the reporter in question.”
Then the statement gets to the red meat of the issue, fake news or not.
“The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it is an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration. As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”
The longstanding bad air between Trump and CNN’s White House correspondent reached a fresh rupture today, with the president calling Acosta a “rude, terrible person” in what was supposed to be midterms victory lap by Trump.
Acosta had asked Trump about his characterizations of a migrant caravan of about 4,000 people in Central America who are walking through Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S as an “invasion.” When the president attempted to go to another journalist, Acosta refused to surrender the microphone, and pressed on with a question about Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
Trump demanded that the CNN reporter “put down the mic.” Once Acosta relented, the president began to berate the reporter, saying: “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person.”
After the contentious exchange, CNN issued a statement raising questions about the president’s ongoing attacks on the press. “This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far,” the Jeff Zucker run cable newser declared. “They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” CNN said. “While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it,”
CNN added that a free press is vital to democracy. A free press that has access to the people’s house helps too – just ask Jeff Sessions, who got the back of Trump’s had today too.