CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta said he walked out of Thursday’s White House press briefing after Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to say that the press was not “the enemy of the American people” as President Trump has taken to arguing recently.
“It would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press. . . are not the enemy of the people,” Acosta said during the briefing. “I think we deserve that.”
The issue of the White House’s relationship to members of the media has resurfaced after television reporters were targets of Trump supporters’ ire at a rally in Tampa this week. Video from the rally showed attendees swearing and shouting at reporters.
“It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country,” Sanders responded. “Repeatedly, repeatedly, the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger. The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your own network.”
Sanders went on to cite an incident in which she was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant and said that, to her knowledge, she is the first press secretary that has required Secret Service protection.
Acosta pressed his point in a follow up, asking her again to directly say that the press was not the “enemy of the people.”
“The president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that and all I’m asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here,” he said.
After saying she shares Acosta’s “passion” for the issue, she again declined to rebuke Trump.
“I’m here to speak on behalf of the president, he’s made his comments clear,” she said.
Acosta said he then walked out in protest and called Sanders’ remarks “shameful.”
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
“I’m tired of this,” he told anchor Brooke Baldwin after the briefing. “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.”
Watch the full exchange: