CNN’s Acosta spars with Breitbart reporter over Trump coverage

CNN's Jim Acosta on Wednesday sparred with Breitbart reporter Charlie Spiering over their employers’ coverage of President Trump.

Spiering accused CNN of bias against the administration, and Acosta responded by asking why Breitbart invariably defended questionable or false statements made by Trump.

"[CNN] takes a completely hostile tone towards the president,” Spiering said at a journalism forum at the Newseum in Washington. “When it comes to people like [Obama national security adviser] Susan Rice, they are not taking the same tone of hostility. And a lot of the news they publish on that, I think a lot of our readers see that as coming from one side.

“They are getting more of their talking points, a good portion of their sources from their Democratic friends. They didn’t vote for the president, and I think there is a difference in tone coming from the mainstream media vs. Breitbart.”

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Acosta answered Spiering's charge with a series of questions about Breitbart’s coverage of the administration. 

“Do you think when the president originally tweeted that ‘Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Obama officials owe the nation an apology for major abuse of power The battle of two Cubas MORE wiretapped me at Trump Tower. It’s like McCarthy. It’s like Watergate’ — do you think in the back of his mind he was thinking, ‘Oh yeah, Susan Rice, she unmasked some people and that’s what I really meant when I tweeted that’?” Acosta asked. 

“My question is, why can’t the folks on the conservative side of the news media just see the facts as they are? I mean, don’t you agree, Charlie, that those tweet on their face are just wrong? The president was not wiretapped at Trump Tower by Barack Obama?”

Spiering responded by stating there was an “element of truth” in the president’s tweets.

“We’re not talking about an element of truth,” Acosta interrupted. “How about just the truth? Why can’t we just have the truth? That’s my question.”

Attendees of the event loudly applauded Acosta's remarks. 

Spiering responded that Breitbart readers and Trump supporters are "very sick of" the press being too friendly with those they cover. 

"I think the sort of 'go along, get along, everyone gets along’ climate in Washington, D.C., is what a lot of Americans are tired of,” he said. 

“They’re tired of the closeness of the news media with the officials they cover. They’re tired of the stories of everybody hanging out and going out to dinners and partying and they’re tired of their issues.”

The Associated Press's Julie Pace jumped in to note reporters have dinners with members of both political parties. 

"That happens with Republicans and Democrats too, to be fair. I mean it’s not as though reporters are hanging out with only Democrats. We have dinners and lunches and coffees with Republicans as well,” she said.

"Right, but it’s part of the establishment," Spiering responded. "It’s part of the swamp that, you know, the Trump supporters were very sick of." 

The Newseum event, billed "The President and the Press," attracted big names from the administration and media, including White House press secretary Sean Spicer, senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Fox News anchor Bret Baier, New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, NBC's Kristen Welker, ABC's Cecilia Vega, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Jennifer Palmieri, the former communications director for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJuan Williams: Bush could strike blow for Biden Zuckerberg expressed concern to Trump over rhetoric amid protests: Axios Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight MORE's 2016 presidential campaign.