In his first press conference since Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives, President Trump clashed with what he called “a hostile media,” including a heated back and forth with CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
Acosta began by challenging Trump’s assertion that a caravan of Central American migrants making its way on foot through Mexico to the U.S. border represented an “invasion.”
“I consider it to be an invasion,” Trump responded.
Acosta accused the president of attempting to frighten voters ahead of the midterms with ads depicting the migrant caravan as invaders.
“I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump scolded Acosta.
Acosta then attempted to ask a follow-up question, only to be told by the president, “That’s enough.”
Acosta persisted. Trump repeated, “That’s enough!” and attempted to call on another reporter, all the while becoming more impatient.
“Mr. President, I have one other question on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have-”
Trump interrupted Acosta. “I’m not concerned about anything with the Russian investigation because it’s a hoax. That’s enough. Put down the mic,” he said, stepping away from the podium in apparent frustration.
“I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” he said. “You are are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible, and the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
Wednesday’s event, which began with the president framing Tuesday’s election results as a victory for himself and the Republican party, was Trump’s first planned, open-ended press conference at the White House since February 2017, and only the second since he took office.
When Trump moved on to NBC’s Peter Alexander, the reporter defended Acosta, calling the president’s description of him “unfair.”
“Well, I’m not a big fan of yours either,” Trump quipped, adding, “You aren’t the best.”
That brought Acosta to his feet again.
“Just sit down, please,” Trump told Acosta, who asked the president off mic about his description of the media as “the enemy of the people.”
“Well, when you report fake news — no, when you report fake news, which CNN does a lot — you are the enemy of the people,” a fuming Trump said before wandering away from the podium again.
As more clashes with reporters followed, Trump, exasperated but energized, summed up what is sure to be repeated at the rallies where chants of “CNN sucks!” have become a favorite chorus.
“It’s such a hostile media. It’s so sad,” Trump said.
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