Sanders Torpedoes Acosta for His ‘Unnecessary’ ‘Tone’ in Press Briefings; ‘I’m Finished With You’

Behold the latest reminder that, for CNN, everything is about them. Wednesday’s White House press briefing saw another throw down between Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling off CNN’s supercilious White House correspondent Jim Acosta over claims the Trump administration has been suppressing reporters.

Sanders jabbed Acosta for crying foul over his Variety comments about the American people and when he tried to argue that the President has hurt press freedoms and wouldn’t stop talking, Sanders forcefully told him that “I’m finished with you.”

 

 

The issue of press freedoms first arose thanks to a question from Voice of America White House correspondent Steve Herman, informing Sanders that the U.S. fell to 45th place in the World Press Freedom Index directly because of the President. He then wondered if she agreed that Trump’s “denigrated freedom of the press in the United States.”

Sanders replied that the White House “would reject the idea that the President or this administration has halted freedom of the press” because “we're one of the most accessible administrations that we've seen in decades.”

She added merely holding briefings to take questions without knowing them ahead of time “is a pretty good example of freedom of the press and I think it's ridiculous to say otherwise.”

About five minutes later, Acosta received his chance and first asked about the media firestorm surrounding VA Secretary nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson: “Yesterday, the President suggested that Dr. Jackson does not have the experience to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. Is that affair assessment that he lacks that experience?”

Sanders responded by invoking Acosta’s Variety hubub in denying the President knocked Jackson:

SANDERS: That's not what the President said. I think you're taking some of his words out of context. 

ACOSTA: What he said? He said inexperience was an issue.

SANDERS: And based on your tweet, I know you don't appreciate when people take your words out of context, so I'd appreciate it if you not do that to the President. 

After some harmless back and forth, Acosta followed up on Herman’s question and, almost immediately, the sparing grew heated (to the approval of April Ryan):

ACOSTA: Let me just follow up, if I can, just a few — since you brought up being taken out of context, it seems to be a press-related question. 

RYAN [OFF-CAMERA]: Yes. Yes.

 ACOSTA: Are you trying to say this administration is a champion of a free press? That seems —

SANDERS: I certainly think, as I stated a moment ago, we support a free press but we also for a fair press and I think that those things should go hand in hand and there's a certainly responsibility by the press to report accurate information. I think a number of people —

ACOSTA: Is there a responsibility on the part of the President? 

SANDERS: — I’m not finished. I think a number of people in this room do this every single day. They do their best every day to provide fair and accurate information, certainly support that[.]

At one point, Sanders called out Acosta’s arrogance, informing him that she takes questions, including “your questions in a tone that's completely unnecessary, unneeded and frankly doesn't help further the conversation or help the American people get any more information in a better way, which is your job and my job and that's what I'm trying to do.”

The White House Press Secretary concluded that she’s “going to move on,” but Acosta wasn’t having it, shouting that “the President’s tone toward — the President's tone toward the press, obviously, is not helpful at times and I think that's plain to see.”

“Jim, I’m finished with you. Thank you. Thank you, Jim,” she replied amidst the cross-talk. 

Acosta wasn’t done. After the briefing, he was given time on CNN to reiterate his side, trashing Sanders for “restort[ing] to a cheap shot about being taken out of context” over the Jackson claims and “I think that was pretty revealing.”

He then continued to play the victim, alluding to his Variety comment and the press freedom rankings (click “expand”):

I asked Sarah Sanders are you saying this administration is some sort of champion of a free press. Obviously, she feels because she come up to the podium and answers questions that somehow makes them champions of the free press. Brooke, just about any mayor spokesperson or mayoral spokesperson or gubernatorial spokesperson does that all over the country. I'm not sure that exactly makes you a champion of the press when the President of the United States has not had a full press conference with the press in over a year, calls people the enemy of the people and fake news and threatens The Washington Post and so on. That is not champion of the free press and, you know, she went after us on that. It's unfortunate but it just goes to show you how uncomfortable they are with these questions about these issues in the cabinet and specifically, right now, Ronny Jackson.

To see the relevant transcript from April 25's White House press briefing and CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, click “expand.”

White House Press Briefing
April 25, 2018
2:26 p.m. Eastern

STEVE HERMAN: Yes, Sarah, I'd like to ask you about the drop for the ranking in the United States in the World Press Freedom Index, the United States now down to 45 and according to Reporters Without Borders, much of the blame for that goes to the President for his attacks on the media. What's the reaction of the white house and does it accept that the President's comments has denigrated freedom of the press in the United States? 

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Certainly would not — would reject the idea that the President or this administration has halted freedom of the press. I think we're one of the most accessible administrations that we've seen in decades. I think by my mere presence of standing up here and taking your questions unvetted is a pretty good example of freedom of the press and I think it's ridiculous to say otherwise.

(....)

2:32 p.m. Eastern

ACOSTA: I just wanted to follow up on Dr. Ronny Jackson. Yesterday, the President suggested that Dr. Jackson does not have the experience to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. Is that affair assessment that he lacks that experience? 

SANDERS: That's not what the President said. I think you're taking some of his words out of context. 

ACOSTA: What he said? He said inexperience was an issue.

SANDERS: And based on your tweet, I know you don't appreciate when people take your words out of context, so I'd appreciate it if you not do that to the President. If he didn't think he had the experience, he wouldn't have nominated. He said that had been one of the questions people had posed about him. Obviously, the President thought —

ACOSTA: So he thinks Dr. Ronny Jackson has all the experience necessary to run the Department? 

SANDERS: Look, I think he has an incredibly strong background.

ACOSTA: It’s a yes or no question.

SANDERS: He's a highly qualified, highLY skilled individual and if he didn’t think he was capable of doing the job, he wouldn't have announced his nomination in the first place. 

ACOSTA: Let me just follow up, if I can, just a few — since you brought up being taken out of context, it seems to be a press-related question. 

APRIL RYAN [OFF-CAMERA]: Yes. Yes.

ACOSTA: Are you trying to say this administration is a champion of a free press? That seems —

SANDERS: I certainly think, as I stated a moment ago, we support a free press but we also for a fair press and I think that those things should go hand in hand and there's a certainly responsibility by the press to report accurate information. I think a number of people —

ACOSTA: Is there a responsibility on the part of the president? 

SANDERS: — I’m not finished. I think a number of people in this room do this every single day. They do their best every day to provide fair and accurate information, certainly support that and that's one of the reasons I'm standing here taking your questions and 

ACOSTA: We appreciate that.

SANDERS: — a lot of times taking your questions in a tone that's completely unnecessary, unneeded and frankly doesn't help further the conversation or help the American people get any more information in a better way, which is your job and my job and that's what I'm trying to do. I’m going to move on.

ACOSTA: I fully appreciate that, but Sarah —

SANDERS: David, go ahead.

ACOSTA: — but the President’s tone toward —

SANDERS: Jim, I’m finished with you. Thank you.

ACOSTA: — the President's tone toward the press, obviously, is not helpful at times —

SANDERS: Thank you, Jim

ACOSTA: — and I think that's plain to see. 

(....)

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
2:42 p.m. Eastern

ACOSTA: The President said with respect to this issue of experience and Dr. Ronny Jackson, he said “I know there's an experience problem because lack of experience,” the President say quite plainly yesterday that Dr. Jackson seems to have an issue when it comes to having the right amount of experience to run the VA and so I think that more than anything else, perhaps more than these other allegations that are swirling around the doctor may be the one issue that trips him up the most when he goes into conformation hearings, if those hearings actually happen and that is does he have the experience necessary to run the VA. When I asked Sarah Sanders about that, she sort of resorted to a cheap shot about being taken out of context. I think that was pretty revealing.

BROOKE BALDWIN: Seemed a little personal. 

ACOSTA: Yeah, it got a little personal there and I think she was referring to a comment that I had made that I said was taken out of context. You know, which led me to ask a follow-up question about something that was raised in this briefing and that is why is it that the United States seems to be dropping when it comes to rankings of press freedom all around the world during this administration. It just happened recently, somebody asked about it in the room. I asked Sarah Sanders are you saying this administration is some sort of champion of a free press. Obviously, she feels because she come up to the podium and answers questions that somehow makes them champions of the free press. Brooke, just about any mayor spokesperson or mayoral spokesperson or gubernatorial spokesperson does that all over the country. I'm not sure that exactly makes you a champion of the press when the President of the United States has not had a full press conference with the press in over a year, calls people the enemy of the people and fake news and threatens The Washington Post and so on. That is not champion of the free press and, you know, she went after us on that. It's unfortunate but it just goes to show you how uncomfortable they are with these questions about these issues in the cabinet and specifically, right now, Ronny Jackson. Brooke? 

BALDWIN: Amen. Jim, thank you so much. 


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NBDaily Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CNN Voice of America Video Jim Acosta White House Press Briefing April Ryan Sarah Huckabee Sanders Dr. Ronny Jackson Donald Trump
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