Acosta: Journalists Should Chant ‘We’re Not the Enemy of the People’ in Front of the White House

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CNN correspondent Jim Acosta went on a lengthy rant against White House attacks on the media on Thursday, suggesting he and his fellow reporters chant on Pennsylvania Avenue "we're not the enemy of the people" in protest against President Donald Trump's claims that they are.

Acosta has had a series of public spats with Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other Trump officials, and he frequently tweets about his efforts to get questions answered. Trump has called Acosta "fake news," and he has become a target of fervent Trump supporters, who were seen jeering and cursing him at a rally in Florida in a widely shared video.

Acosta pressured Sanders on Thursday over Trump's frequent criticisms of the media, asking her to publicly declare that the press was not the "enemy of the American people," as Trump frequently tweets. His daughter Ivanka Trump said earlier on Thursday she did not think that was true, but Sanders said she spoke on behalf of the president and his position was "clear."

Acosta walked out of the briefing in protest, although he returned to tell CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin afterward it was a sad moment.

"Sadly, Brooke, I think what you saw happen here at the end of that briefing was the true feelings of the president, the true feelings of many of the people that work in this administration laid bare," Acosta said. "They believe … that the journalists who cover this White House, the journalists who work in this city, who were just trying a few moments ago to hold some of these officials accountable about attacks on our democracy, that the people here who work at this White House all the way up to the president evidently believe that journalists are the enemy of the people. Literally, the enemy of the people."

Except for Ivanka Trump, Baldwin noted.

Acosta said he gave Sanders "several opportunities to set the record straight," and she refused. Sanders noted she receives Secret Service protection because of threats she has received, and while he sympathized, Acosta said she and Trump continued to regularly tell lies and needed to be fact-checked.

"I'll say that the press is not the enemy of the people," Acosta said. "And, you know, I think maybe we should make some bumper stickers, make some buttons, you know, maybe we should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue like these folks who chant ‘CNN Sucks' and ‘Fake News,' maybe we should go out, all journalists, should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue and chant, ‘We're not the enemy of the people.'"

"Because I'm tired of this," he went on. "Honestly, Brooke, I'm tired of this. It is not right. It is not fair. It is not just. It is un-American to come out here and call the press the enemy of the people, and Ivanka Trump knows that. I don't know why her father doesn't, and I don't know why this press secretary doesn't. I mean, she got yelled at at a restaurant in Virginia. I'm sorry about that. I feel badly for her that happened. That comedian at the correspondent's dinner said some unpleasant things about her. I'm sorry about that. She ought to hear some of the things that were said to me the other night in Tampa … It would be nice if we all lowered the temperature a little bit but at the very least, I think we should all be able to agree on one thing, and that is the press is not the enemy of the people. Fellow Americans are not the enemy of fellow Americans, and, you know, forgive me for going on a rant, but I think that they've lost sight of that here at this White House."

Baldwin said "Amen" to Acosta's speech and appreciated "this is personal for you."

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