President Donald Trump viciously and personally attacked reporters during his first post-midterm elections news conference on Wednesday, calling one journalist “a terrible person.”
“That’s enough,” Trump repeatedly told CNN reporter Jim Acosta as he tried to ask him a question about whether he’s concerned about special counsel Robert Mueller indicting more members of his inner circle. “I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
When Acosta continued with his question, a White House aide attempted to physically wrench the microphone from him.
Trump’s attack prompted NBC’s Peter Alexander to stick up for Acosta, calling him a “diligent reporter.” The president then slammed Alexander as well.
“Well I’m not a big fan of yours either, to be honest with you. You aren’t the best,” Trump said.
The scene was an escalation of Trump’s longtime strategy to vilify the press and tempt reporters into turning into the opposition party. In recent weeks, Trump has attempted to deflect questions about his own behavior and violent incidents by blaming cable news and other outlets for a sense of heightening division in America.
Trump then renewed his attack on Acosta, admonishing him to sit down and adding, “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
Acosta and Alexander weren’t the only reporters Trump insulted during the 90-minute news conference. He also repeatedly told April Ryan to “sit down” as she tried to ask him a question, and he accused another black reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, of asking him “a racist question” after she asked him to clarify the difference between his self-professed nationalism and white nationalism.
Despite the links between his own rhetoric and the string of package bombs that were sent to CNN and prominent liberals — not to mention the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27 that was inspired by a conspiracy theory he pushed — Trump concluded the ugly news conference by blaming the media for setting the country on edge.
Trump claimed he “would love to see unity, peace, love, and other word you want to use,” but only if the media “would cover me fairly, which they don’t.”
He concluded by saying: “It was a very interesting story written in a very good paper recently that talked about the fact that it isn’t good what the media is doing and I do have the right to fight back because I am treated very unfairly. I do fight back and I’m fighting back not for me. I’m fighting back for the people of this country.”