Sam Donaldson Praises CNN’s Jim Acosta, Criticizes Trump’s ‘Dangerous’ Attacks on Press

“Back then, press secretaries … didn’t lie to you, as Mr. Trump’s press secretaries have done regularly,” veteran newsman writes

Veteran Washington correspondent Sam Donaldson, who retired from ABC News in 2013, spoke out in defense of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta and criticized President Trump’s “wholesale attack on the mainstream press” as both “wrong” and “dangerous.”

He also criticized the White House press secretaries under Trump, without naming either Sean Spicer or Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“I spent 52 years as a reporter in Washington, 16 of them as the White House Correspondent for ABC News, covering Presidents Carter and Reagan and President Clinton’s second term,” Donaldson said in a column published on “Back then, press secretaries tried to put the best face on it when things went badly for their boss. But they didn’t lie to you, as Mr. Trump’s press secretaries have done regularly, and they didn’t call you names to your face.”

“We have never seen a president like Donald J. Trump, whose disdain, even contempt and apparent hatred for many members of the press is almost daily on display,” Donaldson wrote, citing numerous instances in which the president has pushed beyond boundaries that previous presidents have maintained.

“When I asked President Carter to respond to the critics who were saying he was ‘failing as President,’ when I asked President Reagan how he could defend the ‘hypocrisy; of selling arms to Iran at the same time as asking our allies to respect an arms embargo on that county, when I asked President Clinton if it was true when a woman publicly raised the charge of ‘rape,’ each of them responded with an answer, not with an attack on me,” Donaldson wrote.

The op-ed was timed to the publication of Acosta’s new book “Enemy of the People,” which details the fraught relationship between the Trump White House and the press, including the attempt to lift Acosta’s White House press pass last fall — a move later reversed amid a court challenge.

Donaldson concluded by praising “Jim Acosta and the other hardworking men and women who cover the White House.”

“I salute them and am proud to stand with them,” he wrote.

Thom Geier

Thom Geier

Executive Editor •


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