Donald Trump would probably be delighted if Jim Acosta — the CNN correspondent he called “a terrible person” on Wednesday — stopped covering him. He did after all revoke Acosta’s press credentials earlier today. But media experts are split on whether the insult created such a conflict of interest that Acosta should move off the White House beat.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said to Acosta during a briefing Wednesday. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. The way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
By Wednesday night, things had escalated: Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Twitter that Acosta’s “hard pass” credential had been revoked, accusing him of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”
And in its own statement, CNN accused Sanders of making “fraudulent accusations” and called the White House’s move to revoke Acosta’s credentials “a threat to our democracy.”
Trump’s insult brought vigorous support for Acosta from CNN, but also calls from the right for Acosta to move on. Acosta has repeatedly criticized Trump officials, including spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and taken Trump to task for calling the news media, including CNN, the “enemy of the people.”
“If Acosta’s job is to be an objective journalist, he’s terrible at it. If it’s to make headlines about Jim Acosta, he’s terrific at it,” Daily Wire founder and editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro told TheWrap. “Of course CNN should replace him — he has not elicited a productive answer from the White House in months, he’s lending credence to the chief criticisms of CNN, and he’s reveling in the attention he receives.”
In a statement, CNN said Acosta isn’t going anywhere.
“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” the network said in a statement.
“While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”
Wednesday’s clash came as Acosta pressed Trump about the so-called migrant caravan, challenging the president’s assertion that it is “an invasion” of the United States.
Trump told Acosta: “I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”
Acosta tried to ask a follow-up question as a White House aide tried to take away the microphone. Trump chided Acosta: “That’s enough.”
The president then added: “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
When NBC’s Peter Alexander began a question by defending Acosta as a “diligent reporter,” Trump replied, “I’m not a big fan of yours, either.”
Playboy columnist Art Tavana said the clash between Trump and Acosta resulted from both Acosta’s “self-aggrandizing activism” and Trump’s “Hindenburg-sized ego,” which “won’t allow him a moment of humility to conduct himself in a presidential manner and quiet the ‘fake news’ twaddle.”
Tavana said the White House press corps would benefit from “more moderate conservatives and levelheaded liberals” in its ranks.
But Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, said Acosta was doing exactly what journalists should do.
“Of course, he can still do his job. In that clip he is doing his job,” Jarvis told TheWrap. “That’s called reporting. I wish we saw a hell of a lot more of it.”
New York University journalism professor Mitchell Stephens said Acosta “performed a service” and should be commended.
“In trying to do his job, which is to ask sometimes difficult questions of whomever is president, he has exposed the level of hostility, evasion and dissembling to which the current president can descend,” Stephens said.
President Trump arguing with CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday at the White House (via Getty Images)
In June, Acosta pressed the president several times on whether he’d stop calling the media “the enemy of the people.” Trump has blasted Acosta and CNN on multiple occasions as “fake news.” Acosta called Trump “a dishonest, deceptive person” at a CNN panel discussion in New York last month. He has also called out Sarah Huckabee Sanders on multiple occasions, saying the White House press secretary doesn’t always “state the facts.”
“I wouldn’t put productive and a Sarah Sanders briefing in the same sentence,” Acosta said at the CNN panel event last month.
Trump White House Revolving Door: 22 Top Staffers Who've Exited, From Omarosa to Scott Pruitt (Photos)
The turnover in the Trump administration continues.
Michael Flynn resigned in February 2017 as President Trump’s national security adviser after less than a month in the position.
The move came after Flynn admitted he gave “incomplete information” about a call he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last December regarding sanctions against Russia, The New York Times reported, and that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about the conversation.
Months after getting personal assurance from the president that he would remain in his job as a top federal prosecutor, Bharara was asked to submit his resignation in March 2017.
“Had I not been fired, and had Donald Trump continued to cultivate a direct personal relationship with me, it’s my strong belief at some point, given the history, the president of the United States would’ve asked me to do something inappropriate,” Bharara said on his podcast.
Trump’s decision was based on the recommendation of both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to Spicer.
Michael Dubke, the first communications director in the Trump White House, resigned in May 2017 in the midst of ongoing blowback for the president's handling of the firing of James Comey.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in late July 2017 when Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
According to the New York Times, which first broke the news, Spicer told President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier and former Fox Business host Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
Priebus was ousted from his position as White House Chief of Staff in July 2017, when Donald Trump hired General John Kelly to take his place.
"I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American,” Trump said in a tweet.
“I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country,” Trump went on to say in a separate tweet. “We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”
Scaramucci was the White House Communications Director for 10 days last summer and is now infamous for a wild, expletive-filled interview with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza. He announced in late September week that he will launch his own media website, called The Scaramucci Post.
Sebastian Gorka announced his decision to exit his role as deputy assistant to the POTUS in a letter to the president in late August 2017.
“[G]iven recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House,” Gorka wrote in the letter, obtained by the Federalist. “As a result, the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr. President, is from outside the People’s House.”
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was reportedly fired in August 2017, though he insists he resigned July 27 -- giving two weeks’ notice -- but his leaving was put off because of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. He returned to Breitbart News, where he vows to go to “war” for Trump.
Following a week-long scandal over his lavish use of private jets while traveling on government business, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price resigned on September 29.
“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted,” the White House said in a statement. “The President intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29, 2017.”
Former "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman resigned in December "to pursue other opportunities," according to a White House press release. Trump thanked her for In February 2018, she became a contestant on "Celebrity Big Brother," and bashed Trump in the first episode.
Centers for Disease Control director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned in January 2018 after a Politico report that she bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her role.
Just one day after testifying before the House intelligence committee in February 2018, the White House Communications Director and longtime Trump loyalist announced plans to resign.
The former head of PR for Hollywood producer Jason Blum's Blumhouse announced in February 2018 that he was leaving his job as a senior communications aide at the White House after less than a year on the job.
Cohn, considered one of the most liberal members of Team Trump as director of the National Economic Council, announced in March 2018 he was leaving after a disagreement with Trump over tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. He had previously been mentioned as a possible chief of staff.
McEntee was abruptly fired after serving a year as the president's personal assistant, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 13, 2018. The paper cited an unspecified security issue as the reason for the dismissal.
The secretary of state was abruptly asked to resign in March 2018 after just over a year in the job. The former CEO of Exxon Mobil arrived at the State Department with no experience in government or diplomacy and soon ran afoul of both his agency and Trump, particularly after reports emerged that Tillerson had called the president a "moron" following a cabinet meeting.
H. R. McMaster
The lieutenant general, picked by Trump to be his second national security adviser, resigned March 22, 2017, and replaced by former United States ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.
The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs was removed from his post in March 2018 following a scandal over travel expenses involving his wife.
The White House lawyer who had overseen legal issues related to the investigation into Russian interference in 2016's presidential election announced on May 2, 2018, that he was leaving his position.
The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency resigned on July 5, 2018 after months of reports about his spending practices and ethics.
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EPA head is the latest to leave the Trump administration
The turnover in the Trump administration continues.