White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tangled with CNN’s Jim Acosta at the daily press briefing Thursday, accusing the network and other media of waging personal attacks against President Trump and herself.
In a lengthy, stormy exchange, Mrs. Sanders said journalists are complaining about the president calling them “the enemy of the people,” but they won’t accept responsibility for leveling attacks against administration officials and the president.
“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,” she told Mr. Acosta. “Repeatedly, the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger.”
The exchanged ended with Mr. Acosta walking out of the briefing and tweeting that he thought Mrs. Sanders’ performance “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
During the press briefing, Mrs. Sanders noted that she is the first White House press secretary to require Secret Service protection, and she blamed the media in part.
“The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your own network; said I should be harassed as a life sentence, that I should be choked,” Mrs. Sanders continued. “ICE officials are not welcomed in their place of worship, and personal information is shared on the internet.”
A restaurant owner in Virginia asked Mrs. Sanders and her family to leave recently, saying the employees opposed the administration’s policies.
At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last spring, she said, “you brought a comedian up to attack my appearance, and call me a traitor to my own gender.”
At the dinner, comedian Michelle Wolf ridiculed Mrs. Sanders, seated nearby on the dais, as the character Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” who brainwashes other women. She also called her “Uncle Tom, but for white women who disappoint other white women.”
Said Mrs. Sanders, “The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration. And certainly, we have a role to play, but the media has a role to play for the discourse in this country, as well.”
Mr. Acosta replied, “I’m sorry that happened to you. We all get put through the meat grinder in this town.”
He asked Mrs. Sanders to renounce the president’s characterization of the media as the enemy of the people.
“The president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people,” Mr. Acosta said. “His own daughter acknowledged that. It would be a good thing if you would say right here [that] the press … are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.”
First daughter Ivanka Trump had said at an event in Washington earlier Thursday that she does not believe the media are the enemy of the people.
But Mrs. Sanders declined to take Mr. Acosta up on his challenge.
“I appreciate your passion,” she told him. “I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”
Broadcasting from the White House after the briefing, Mr. Acosta told viewers, “I’m tired of this.”
He tweeted later, “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.”
Mr. Trump took some more swipes at the media Thursday night at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. He said media reports erroneously accused him of keeping Queen Elizabeth II waiting for tea on his visit to England last month.
“They can make anything bad, because they are the fake, fake disgusting news,” Mr. Trump said.
⦁ Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.
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