CNN Insiders: Jim Acosta's Outbursts Are 'Auditions' for His Own Commentary Show

CNN's Jim Acosta / Getty
August 4, 2017

Some of CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta's network colleagues believe there is an ulterior motive to his recent clashes with President Donald Trump and his administration.

An on-air conservative political commentator for CNN said that he gets the impression from Acosta's actions that he wants a new role at the network, according to the Washington Examiner.

"He's angling to host an opinion show," the CNN commentator said. "These [White House] briefings are his auditions."

One CNN producer indicated that Acosta's antics are not as popular inside the network as they may appear on air.

"Ugh, just ugh," the producer told the Examiner when asked about Acosta.

Acosta has swiftly become the most visible White House correspondent for CNN, and perhaps among all networks, after repeatedly clashing with Trump administration officials during press conferences.

One memorable moment was in late June, when Acosta pressed former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on why the cameras were not on during a press briefing.

"Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean," Acosta said. "Why don't we turn the cameras on? Why don't we turn the cameras on?"

"You are a taxpayer-funded spokesman for the United States government. Can you at least give us an explanation for why the cameras are off," Acosta added, continuing to push Spicer. He later tweeted about his comments.

Acosta most recently caused a stir on Wednesday when he got into a heated argument with White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over a new bill that would limit legal immigration to the United States.

The Republican-backed bill shifts the focus to letting in higher-skilled workers and English-speaking immigrants. President Donald Trump supports the measure, arguing it will help the American worker.

Acosta questioned the "American spirit" of the bill and even invoked the Statue of Liberty.

"What the president is proposing here does not sound like it's in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,'" Acosta said, quoting from the poem The New Colossus, which was inscribed on the statue after its erection.

"This whole notion of, 'Well, they have to learn English before they get to the United States.' Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?" Acosta asked Miller.

Miller said that Acosta was demonstrating his "cosmopolitan bias" and said he was "shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English."

Miller and Acosta engaged in a spirited back-and-forth at the briefing that included insults coming from Acosta. He accused the White House of "trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people" into the United States. Miller said that this was "one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things" Acosta had ever said.

CNN has earned extra attention and scrutiny for being the subject of many of Trump's attacks against the media, allowing Acosta to get more attention at briefings and press conferences.

Acosta initially gained attention at a pre-inauguration press conference in January, when he directly confronted Trump on why the president-elect would not let him ask a question.

"Since you're attacking us, can you give us a question?" Acosta yelled out at the press conference. Trump declined, but Acosta pushed on and was interrupted by Trump.

"Your organization is terrible … Don't be rude. No, I'm not going to give you a question. I'm not going to give you a question… You are fake news," Trump said.

Some of Acosta's commentary and outbursts have rubbed his media colleagues the wrong way, the Examiner reported.

John Podhoretz, an anti-Trump writer for the conservative Commentary magazine, said that Acosta's interaction with Miller on Wednesday regarding immigration was "so obnoxious."

"Jim is a stunt dummy," one CNN producer said, describing Acosta.