In the third White House press briefing since his promotion to CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta was promptly burned on Thursday by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in regards to CNN’s ratings in response to Acosta’s question about what appeared to be contradictory Trump tweets about the FISA program.
Acosta opined to Sanders that, not surprisingly, “[t]here seems to be a pattern” of “cause and effect” “where the President watches something on Fox and Friends then he tweets about it” in reference to his first FISA tweet denouncing the program after a segment by judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.
Sanders joked that “I’m sure you are disappointed he's not watching CNN” and when Acosta hit back that he’s certain that Trump “watches a lot of CNN,” Sanders lit the proverbial match: “I don't think that's true. Your numbers would be higher.”
A smirk went across Acosta’s face before gathering himself up to reply that “[t]hey’re actually better than they’ve been in a long time.” Since he invoked Fox and Friends, TVNewser showed that CNN’s equivalent program (New Day) finished 2017 in a distant third with an average total viewers of 633,000 behind 975,000 for MSNBC’s Morning Joe and 1,595,000 for Fox and Friends.
Back to the issue of the FISA program, Sanders argued that Trump “believe[s] that Americans rights or liberties shouldn't be abused, but he certainly believes that Americans should be protected” and thus “that's why he supports the 702 but has concerns with FISA more generally.”
Right before his FISA mini-monologue, Acosta asked if DREAMers “should...have confidence that this President is going to reach agreement that will protect [them] from being deported.”
Obviously, Sanders responded in the affirmative and cited Trump’s willingness to compromise during Tuesday’s open White House meeting with members of Congress.
Acosta was apoplectic afterward on CNN Newsroom, declaring that it marked another example of the White House “telling us that two plus two does not equal four” and “the sky is not blue.”
“That is what happens here at the White House under this administration. It happens sometimes under other administrations. It seems to happen frequently during this administration that we’re told two and two does not equal four. Obviously, those were contradictory tweets this morning from the President of the United States on the FISA program,” he added.
Here’s the relevant transcript from January 11's White House Press Briefing and CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:
White House Press Briefing
January 11, 2018
2:54 p.m. Eastern
JIM ACOSTA: If you are a DREAMer out there, should you have confidence that this President is going to reach agreement that will protect you from being deported?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: You should. I think you saw that. You guys got to come into the room in a pretty unprecedented way and sat in there for almost an hour, listening to the president talk about it and, listen to the President commit on getting a solution on this. Right now counting on Republicans and Democrats to come together, which we think they will to make a deal on DACA and border security, which is vital part of that conversation and something that we insist be part of it.
ACOSTA: And a quick follow up on FISA. There seems to it be a pattern, and correct me if I'm wrong if there is no pattern, where the president watches something on Fox and Friends then he tweets about it. Apparently this morning one of their personalities Andrew Napolitano said that this is not a good deal, Mr. President, don't do this and then he went on Twitter and tweeted about the FISA program. There have been folks out there who have said, you know, there is a cause and effect, he watches something on Fox and Friends and then he tweets about it. Is that what happened this morning? And does that go on?
SANDERS: I'm sure you are disappointed he's not watching CNN.
ACOSTA: I think he watches a lot of CNN if you don't mind me saying it. [ROOM LAUGHS]
SANDERS: I don't think that's true. Your numbers would be higher. [ROOM LAUGHS]
ACOSTA: They’re actually better than they’ve been in a long time.
SANDERS: In reference to the question — the question specifically. No, let’s not. In response to the question, the President has a great deal of understanding. This is top of mind. He was talking about it last week. He has issued a presidential memo on it. So it's not something that just happened this morning. This has been an ongoing discussion and something of great importance. The President doesn't believe that Americans rights or liberties should be abused. But he certainly believes that Americans should be protected. He wants to make sure we do both of those things and that's why he supports the 702 but has concerns with FISA more generally.
CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
January 11, 2018
3:13 p.m. Eastern
BROOKE BALDWIN: But on FISA, Jim, it was just confusing, the tweet was confusing this morning.
BALDWIN: How — how are they — she's obviously saying we’re wrong. It wasn’t.
ACOSTA: They’re telling us that two plus two does not equal four. They’re telling us that the sky is not blue. That is what happens here at the White House under this administration. It happens sometimes under other administrations. It seems to happen frequently during this administration that we’re told two and two does not equal four. Obviously, those were contradictory tweets this morning from the President of the United States on the FISA program. Tweets by the way which were posted at around the same time he was watching Fox and Friends essentially tell him, no, Mr. President don't do this. And so raises the question and we brought this up during the briefing, you know, does the President essentially live tweet his policy after watching a television program. That, obviously, should cause concern to people when wondering what the President is up to on any given morning. It appears this morning he was watching a program and then tweeting policy. That, obviously, caused a lot of concern up on Capitol Hill. It caused a lot of concern at the white house because as we all know, the House was voting to reauthorization the FISA program, which is obviously very important for countering espionage here in the United States. It’s also important for detecting potential terrorist attacks or terrorist plots here in the United States. So it's a hugely important program and it caused a lot of concern up on Capitol Hill. We just know that. We know it caused concern on capitol hill because talking to our sources. There are people over here at the White House acknowledging that to us privately and yet we have the White House secretary Sarah Sanders 2 plus 2 is not 4 and sky is not blue. That occasionally happens over here.