7 times Trump clashed with reporters in hostile post-midterms press conference
President Trump held a lengthy and frequently hostile press conference Wednesday at the White House, where he repeatedly belittled individual reporters and cast blame on the media for causing division in the country.
In a roughly 90 minute press conference in the East Room, Trump regularly talked over reporters and cut them off as they sought follow-up questions. He simultaneously voiced a desire for the country to unify following the midterms and blamed the media for existing hostilities.
Here are seven instances where Trump clashed with reporters on Wednesday:
- Trump goes after CNN’s Acosta
The president renewed hostilities with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta after the reporter attempted to follow up a question about Central American migrants with a question about the Russia investigation.
“That’s enough. Put down the mic,” Trump told Acosta.
“I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” he said. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
Acosta has been at the center of a number of heated exchanges with Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and is often heckled by the president’s supporters at campaign rallies.
He later vowed to continue doing his job in the face of criticism.
- Trump labels CNN “enemy of the people”
After the press secretary late last month refused to name which outlets the president considers the “enemy of the people,” Trump applied the label to CNN during his back-and-forth with Acosta.
“When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people,” Trump said.
He spoke over Acosta, who popped back up as another reporter started to speak to remind the president that the network received a mail bomb. Cesar Sayoc Jr. is charged with sending similar packages to CNN and a number of prominent Democrats.
Trump has denied that his attacks on the press have any relation to the mail bombs, instead blaming the media for causing “great anger” in the country.
CNN hit back at the president over his rhetoric at the press conference, calling his treatment of the media “disturbingly un-American.”
- Trump says he’s not a “big fan” of NBC reporter
NBC News’s Pete Alexander defended Acosta before asking a question of his own, calling the president’s criticisms “unfair.”
“I’ve traveled with him and watched him,” Alexander said. “He’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.”
“Well I’m not a big fan of yours either, to be honest with you,” Trump shot back. “You aren’t the best.”
Trump often attacks NBC News over its coverage of his presidency. He has on multiple occassions threatened to review the network’s “license,” though it’s unclear what grounds he would have to do so.
- Trump tells April Ryan to “sit down”
The president repeatedly told April Ryan, the Washington correspondent for National Urban Radio Network, to “sit down” after she attempted to ask about voter suppression.
“Sit down. I didn’t call on you,” Trump said, scolding Ryan for attempting to get a question in despite not being given a microphone.
Ryan, who is black, is another reporter who has clashed with Trump and Sanders at press conferences and briefings, often for attempting to ask a question before being recognized. She has accused the president of treating women and minority reporters differently than he treats white men in the press corps.
- Trump accuses reporter of asking “racist” question
Yamiche Alcindor of PBS Newshour asked Trump about his decision to describe himself as a “nationalist” in recent weeks, a label he had previously avoided explicitly using.
“You called yourself a nationalist, some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists,” Alcindor, who is black, began. “There are some people that say now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric. What do you make of that?”
Trump quickly asserted that he has high poll numbers with African-Americans, before accusing Alcindor of asking a “racist question.”
“That’s such a racist question,” the president said. “Honestly, I mean, I know you have it written down — let me tell you, that’s a racist question.”
“To say that, what you said is so insulting to me,” he added.
Alcindor followed up with a question about Trump’s proposal to give a 10 percent tax cut to the middle class.
Numerous reporters and colleagues leapt to Alcindor’s defense on Twitter.
.@Yamiche asked a fair and important question about whether Trump’s embrace of the “nationalist” label is an embrace of “white nationalism.”
Trump replied by saying, repeatedly, “That’s such a racist question,” and told Yamiche, “What you just said is so insulting to me.”
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) November 7, 2018
my @NewsHour colleague @Yamiche is a complete professional, an utterly fair and hardworking reporter. She did not ask a “racist question.” https://t.co/g8WErXZMRW
— Judy Woodruff (@JudyWoodruff) November 7, 2018
- Trump blames Yahoo reporter for causing division
A Yahoo News reporter appeared to bother Trump when he asked whether he’d ever made racist remarks.
The correspondent cited anecdotes from Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman and former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant Lil’ Jon, who all described instances where the president used derogatory language about African-Americans.
“That’s false. That’s false,” Trump said. “I don’t know who Little Jon is.”
“I have never used racist remarks,” he added.
The reporter noted that Trump’s approval among African-Americans, which the president frequently highlights in response to questions about racism, is at 8 percent.
“See, when you talk about division, it’s people like this that cause division. Great division,” Trump said, pointing to the reporter.
- President says media is responsible for improving tone of discourse
Trump has drawn repeated criticism in recent weeks for his constant attacks on the media, particularly after bombs were sent to CNN and several Democrats. Asked whether he should dial back his rhetoric, the president has consistently turned the blame around on the press.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s press conference, Trump expressed hope that hostilities would cool in the aftermath of the midterm elections, but again pointed the finger at the media.
“Hopefully the tone can get better. Hopefully the tone can get a lot better. And I really believe it begins with the media,” Trump said.
The president said he has the “right to fight back” in response to what he perceives as unfair treatment.
“I’m fighting back, not for me, I’m fighting back for the people of this country,” he said.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.