White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to acquiesce to CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s demands asking that she deny the fake news media is the enemy of the American people.
During a White House press briefing Thursday Acosta repeatedly insisted Sanders should disavow the president’s remarks slamming fake news.
“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.”
Sanders responded that the president was entitled to his position and that fake news disseminators haven’t exactly proven they aren’t worthy of the “enemy” monicker.
“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,” she said.
“The media has attacked me repeatedly… When I was hosted by the correspondence association you brought up a comedian to attack me. As far as I know I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection,” 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 a role to play for the discourse in this country as well.”
During Sanders’ response, one press member could be heard saying, “Tell that to the five dead journalists in Maryland,” referring to the shooting at the Capital Gazette in late June.
Acosta then pointed out Sanders never addressed the president’s “enemy” remark.
“You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people,” Acosta noted. “Are we to take it from what you just said, we all get put through the wringer, 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 did not happen.”
“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, 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.”
Sanders responded that the president had in the past made his position clear.
“I appreciate your passion. I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his statements clear.”
Following the exchange, Acosta fled the briefing room.
I walked out of the end of that briefing because I am totally saddened by what just happened. Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn't do it. Shameful.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 2, 2018
— Rob Dew (@DewsNewz) August 2, 2018
Reporters asked about the “enemy” label, which Trump threw out in February 2017, after the president’s daughter Ivanka stated at an Axios event Thursday that she did not agree with her father’s characterization.
“I’ve certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate, so I’ve had some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripes, especially when they sort of feel targeted, but no. I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people,” Ivanka remarked.
Last year, the President ruffled the fake news media’s feathers when he tweeted that several “fake news” mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times and CBS, were the enemy of the American people.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017