WASHINGTON: A visibly angry President Donald Trump branded CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta a “rude, terrible person” and an “enemy of the people” in a testy exchange on national television Wednesday the day after America’s midterm elections.
Trump laid into the CNN star — the latest in a long history of fiery run-ins between the pair — after Acosta refused Trump’s orders to sit down and give up the microphone during a press conference.
Trump appeared ready to walk out as Acosta clung to the microphone and persisted with questions about the president’s views on a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the US border.
When asked if he had “demonized immigrants” during the midterms campaign, Trump replied: “No, I want them to come into the country. But they have to come in legally.”
Acosta persisted, saying: “They are hundreds of miles away. That is not an invasion.”
At that point, the president snapped.
“Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be higher,” Trump said.
As the reporter continued, Trump declared: “That’s enough, put down the mic” and walked away from his own podium, as if leaving.
An aide attempted to grab the microphone from Acosta, who nevertheless tried to shout out one last question.
Waving his finger, Trump berated him.
“I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” he said.
When NBC reporter Peter Alexander took the mic for the next question, he defended Acosta as a “diligent reporter” — earning Trump’s ire.
“I’m not a fan of yours either. To be honest. You aren’t the best,” he said.
Looking back at Acosta, who, again, rose up in his own defence, Trump added: “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
In a statement, CNN called out Trump.
“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, voicing its support for Acosta and “journalists everywhere”.