CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Thursday if she would go against her boss, President Donald Trump, and say the press is not the enemy of the people.
The president has frequently attacked the press for being unfair and publishing "fake news" about him and his administration. When he was traveling to Helsinki to meet Russian President Vladamir Putin, he called the press the "enemy of the people." During the press conference, Acosta brought up recent comments from Trump's senior adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump where she stated she doesn't believe the press is the enemy of the people.
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Acosta requested Sanders state that the press is not the enemy of the people, adding reporters deserved to hear it from the press secretary.
"You read off a laundry list of your concerns about the press and then things that you feel were misreported, but you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people," Acosta said. "I think it would be a good thing if you were to state right here at this briefing that the press, the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.
"The president has made his position known. I also think it's ironic –," she started before being interrupted by Acosta. "I'm trying to answer your question. I politely waited and I called on you even after you interrupted me when I called on your colleague."
When Sanders was able to continue to respond, she listed off instances where she saw the media has added to the divided national discourse.
"It's ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric when they frequently lowered the level of conversation in this country. Repeatedly, repeatedly the media restarts personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger," Sanders said. "The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration. And certainly we have a role to play, but the media has to role to play for the discourse in this country as well."
Acosta followed up to note Sanders didn't fulfill his request.
"You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it from what you just said, we all get put through the ringer, we all get put through the meat grinder in this town and you're not an exception, and I'm sorry that happened to you. I wish that had not happen," Acosta said in reference to instances like the one at a Virginia restaurant when Sanders' party was asked to leave because of her work for the president.
"For the sake of this room, for the people in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you are saying and the White House for the United States of America," Acosta continued. "The president of the United States should not refer to us as enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that, and all I'm asking is you acknowledge that right here and right now.
"I appreciate your passion," Sanders said. "I share it. I've address this question. I've addressed my personal feelings. I'm here to speak on behalf of the president. He's made his comments clear."