White House press secretary Sarah Sanders refused to say the media is “not the enemy of the people” when asked to do so by CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta during the Thursday’s White House press briefing.
Acosta, who recently posted videos showing that he and other reporters were aggressively heckled at President Donald Trump’s rally in Tampa, Florida earlier this week, asked Sanders to “say right here, at this briefing, that the press, the people who are gathered in this room every day and doing their jobs every day… are not the enemy of the people,” adding, “I think we deserve that.”
However, Sanders did not appear to agree, and instead criticized press members for their coverage of the administration. “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. 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, [and] said I should be harassed.”
Watch the exchange here:
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 2, 2018
She added: “As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that has required Secret Service protection. The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration. Certainly we have a role to play, but the media has a role to play for the discourse in this country as well.”
Acosta fired back: “In the course of those remarks, you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people. We all get put through the ringer in this town, and you’re no exception… but for the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you’re saying, Sarah, and 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 acknowledge that, right now and right here.”
Sanders declined to change her remarks, responding, “I appreciate your passion, I share it. I’ve addressed my personal feelings, but I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”
Following the briefing, Acosta tweeted about the exchange, writing, “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.”
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
Earlier this week, Acosta posted a video to Twitter from the Tampa, Florida, event which showed some in the crowd shouting and flipping the bird at reporters and camera crews in the press pool. One bearded man wore a “F– the Media” t-shirt.
“Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa,” the CNN veteran tweeted. “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”
Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa. I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy. pic.twitter.com/IhSRw5Ui3R
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 1, 2018
On Thursday morning, first daughter Ivanka Trump made a pubic break with her father, telling Axios’ Mike Allen that she did not believe the media was the enemy of the people.
“No, I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people,” said Trump. “I’ve certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate,” she continued while speaking speaking at an Axios Newsmakers conversation on workforce development at the Newseum. “I’ve had some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripes especially when they sort of feel targeted.”
On Twitter and in public remarks, President Trump has repeatedly laced into the media as “the enemy of the people.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017