"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace said CNN reporter Jim Acosta "embarrassed himself" with his conduct at Wednesday's presidential press conference, calling him a showboat who made it hard to exercise "journalistic solidarity."
Acosta had his White House "hard pass" suspended following a contentious interaction where he refused to give up the microphone to a White House intern after an aggressive series of questions and repeated orders from the president to sit down, and the Trump administration accused him of manhandling her. Acosta denied it.
Wallace appeared on Fox News host Dana Perino's afternoon program where he called Acosta's approach more of an argument than a question. He harkened back to his time covering the Ronald Reagan administration, saying he was aggressive at times but never acted the way Acosta did.
"I think he embarrassed himself," he said. "He was disrespectful to his colleagues in asking repeated questions and thereby making it harder for them to get in a question, and then the President of the United States told him to sit down and he refused, and he kept talking."
Perino, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, said she knew many of Acosta's colleagues were privately frustrated with his conduct, which often appears more made for television than to garner meaningful information.
"Jim Acosta strikes me as a showboat who would like to attention more than he'd like to get answers to questions," Wallace said. "Having said that, I am troubled by pulling the hard pass because—you can argue he was a jerk and he deserves it, but obviously at a certain point you begin to wonder … CNN stood with us [when Barack Obama declared war on Fox] … We do have to stick together, but Jim Acosta makes it awfully hard to have journalistic solidarity in something like this."
Acosta often peppers his questions and reporting with editorial commentary and gets into verbal spats with President Donald Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Wednesday was no different with Acosta telling Trump he was wrong to call the migrant caravan "an invasion" and asking if he had "demonized immigrants." The two repeatedly spoke over one another, and when Trump tried to move onto another reporter, Acosta kept talking, even as an intern sought to take the microphone from him.
His hand grazed her arm as he resisted giving up the mic— he said "excuse me, ma'am"—and he then asked a question about the Russia investigation. Trump told him "that's enough," called the investigation a "hoax," and then told Acosta he was a "rude, terrible person" who treats people "horribly."
After Acosta was denied re-entry to the White House for a live shot Wednesday evening, Sanders tweeted out the news of his hard pass suspension, saying the White House would not tolerate his "placing his hands on a young woman" and that CNN defending him was "disgusting." Acosta said the allegation that he had done so was a "lie," and partisan divides emerged online over whether he had acted appropriately and if the White House's response was proportional.