HISSY FIT: Arrogant CNN Makes White House Press Conference About Itself, Condemns Trump

After Wednesday’s free-wheeling and tense White House press conference, CNN went on the offensive against President Trump, illustrating a level of self-centeredness that’s unrivaled in the media and showing petty levels of emotion on-set reacting to the President’s condemnations and heated exchanges with chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, political analyst April Ryan, and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor. 

Check out the video here of co-hosts Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper welcoming on Acosta like a triumphant Captain America who took on the President as if he were Thanos in Infinity War, but actually won.

 

 

Legal analyst Laura Coates led off this shameless display of arrogance, ludicrously claiming that the media did not “take the bait” or engage in a “tit for tat” and lashed out in the same way the President did at the media, including Jim Acosta and his throwdown. Yes, really.

Blitzer and Tapper then brought in Acosta, with Tapper gushing that Acosta went through “a surreal experience” when he was only “being very aggressive, as is the job of a White House correspondent” as he and CNN political analyst David Gregory were previously “pissing off everybody in that room, pissing off President Obama, pissing off President Bush and asking questions that made them mad at us.”

Tapper added with dismay that “President Trump did something that I’ve never seen an American president do, which is go went on a personal rant against you for the questions you were attempting to ask.”

Acosta took the ball and ran with it, offering a Steve Schmidt-like rant. He first laughably claimed that “when they go low, we keep doing our jobs” as Acosta was simply asking about Trump’s “lie that he told before the midterm elections about this caravan of immigrants” which Acosta claimed without evidence that “they pose nothing of a threat to the United States.”

CNN’s chief carnival barker continued to drivel on (click “expand”):

But, of course, Jake, as you were just mentioning, that's our job, that's what we do over here, that’s what Wolf when he was over here as a White House correspondent as well and we can’t just be intimidated by that thing....Ithink the other point that needs to be made is during this press conference, the President time and again seemed to be attacking journalists of color. He was attacking my friend April Ryan, telling her to sit down. At one point, he went after Yamiche Alcindor with PBS, saying that she had a racist question because she asked about this concern out there that when he says he’s a nationalist, that it’s dog-whistle to white nationalists all over the country. It was a very fair question...But, you know, as for being called the enemy of the people and so on, Jake, Wolf, all of our folks who are there on the set there with you, I think the American people know we're friends of the American people, we're going to defend the American people and we're going to stand up for our rights to seek the truth in this country, and the President can call us all the names in the world but we're going to keep doing our jobs. 

Blitzer then read the supercilious CNN statement trying to reiterate their role as the opposition. Here’s the statement that Blitzer and Tapper both boasted of as being a “strong statement” from their employer:

This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far.  They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.

Tapper added that the President went after NBC and PBS so it didn’t happen “in a vacuum” and turned his ire toward Trump with such emotion that’s rare even for him (click “expand”):

That is our job to ask these questions. Now, maybe some people don't like how one or don’t like how another reporter asks a question. It doesn't really matter. The point is the questions. We are supposed to bring them to the President. The President's response was to personally, personally attack Jim Acosta. This is the President of the United States, all right. We’re not on equal footing. The President is way up here. Individual reporters are way down here. We are supposed to ask them questions and, yes, they always think we're rude, impertinent. Obama thought it, Bush thought it, Clinton thought it. It goes on and on and on. So the idea that CNN is putting out a statement like that is great and what I like about it the most is they're not just standing up for Acosta, they're talking about everybody in that room.

Inside Politics host John King also made the case, as chief political correspondent Dana Bash did before him, that Trump was sexist because “this President does not like being challenged by women.” CNN didn’t go down the road of anti-Semitism or homophobia in this 20-minute love letter to itself, so they didn’t play every card in the book.

Political director David Chalian chose to praise likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for having stuck up for — wait for it — the Constitution and the media.

Just like her fellow liberals on ABC, CBS, and CNN, Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, Coates cast doubt on the legitimacy of Republican victories in both Florida and Georgia, suggesting that untold numbers were racially barred from voting (click “expand”):

It is completely noticeable. I mean, no one would be delusional enough to think that every time you interrupt only the black female reporters, every time you try to silence somebody or patronize them because of their questioning that this goes unnoticed and, in fact, it’s proven by just last night's election results. The year of the woman became the day of the woman again...Having said that, the President's tactics in some way and the Republican party in terms of gerrymandering, in terms of voter suppression, those were successful in some areas. I think that notion by the President feeling emboldened by the aspect that if I can silence certain people votes, if I can be patronizing and condescending enough to deny them the right to exercise the franchise, I can carry that with me going forward. That's one of the most concerning thing for voters going forward, why you have a lawsuit in places like Georgia about having Brian Kemp overseeing the counting of the runoff, why you have people looking at these issues because people are noticing what happened today on a much grander scale and it will have consequences, if not today or yesterday, in 2020 most assuredly. 

Since Brian Stelter wasn’t on set, David Gregory filled the void with a thrill-up-the-leg-like tribute to the news media for doing their jobs in the Trump era as if it were dormant in the Obama era.

Here’s Gregory (click “expand”):

And the flip side of what David was saying in terms of the attempts to chip at the at the institution of a free press, the reality is the opposite. The press — the media in this country are in a kind of golden time, doing our jobs, you know, holding power accountable, you know, being annoying, you know, challenging, which is what White House correspondents are there to do, but also shining a lot on what’s actually happening, there's a lot of great journalism and there's also bad journalism and the media has been fractured in a way that continues to unfold and evolve that both really bothers political figures, some know how to deal with it, some don't. We’re all trying to figure it out, but the reality is that the fundamentals of our job are really, really strong and they are revealing everything that the President is, his strengths, his weaknesses, his temperament, all of that is coming out because the press is doing its job. 

Ryan was then welcomed on like a member of The Avengers, lamenting that she was not given a chance to have an exchange with Trump about the claim that “he does not take” the issue of “voter suppression” seriously because of who she was (read: skin color).

As for the Alcindor exchange, Ryan stated that she “asked a real question because there is a concern about saying he's a nationalist” since “[h]e is a white man who is a nationalist and there are people who are concerned that that is code for white nationalist.”

“But there is a concern about it and Yamiche is now — she has the residue of hate, you know,” she added.

Blitzer built on this pontifical scene by lamenting that he too was a White House correspondent and he’s “never heard a President respond the way this President did.”

Editor's Note: This post has been updated with a full transcript and more analysis on CNN's 20-minutes of self-love.

To see the relevant transcript from November 7's CNN Newsroom, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom
November 7, 2018
2:06 p.m. Eastern

LAURA COATES: On the issue of bait, though, I — it has to be said because I know the media was attacked as well and you touched on this issue as well, but the issue of not taking the bait and projecting, there has to be kudos extended to Yamiche Alcindor and everyone else who did not take the bait of trying to deflect and reject and be defensive and antagonizing in the way they’re talking about it, becoming Trump’s Republican Party and the media responding tit for tat and so I think you’re seeing a growing trend of not only Democrats and Republicans recognizing that, the media certainly showed that today from the microphone being grabbed by Jim Acosta to Yamiche saying no.

WOLF BLITZER: The President opened up that hour and a half appearance before the news media in the East room of the White House, attacking the news media, continued throughout the questioning, and he ended it with the same we've been hearing a lot of it, the news media is the enemy of the American people. He had this, change with our own chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. 

[TRUMP VS. ACOSTA]

JAKE TAPPER: Let me bring in Jim Acosta now if I can. I believe he's at the White House and Jim, that must have been a surreal experience. Obviously you were being very aggressive, as is the job of a White House correspondent. David Gregory and I are sitting here talking about our experiences pissing off everybody in that room, pissing off President Obama, pissing off President Bush and asking questions that made them mad at us but President Trump did something that I’ve never seen an American president do, which is go went on a personal rant against you for the questions you were attempting to ask. 

JIM ACOSTA: Well, Jake, when they go low, we keep doing our jobs. That’s the way I look at it and you know, I had a question to ask and if we had played the tape a little bit before that exchange, you would have seen the question that I was asking, which was essentially about this lie that he told before the midterm elections about this caravan of immigrants moving from Central American to the U.S. border with Mexico is somehow an invasion when it's not, they are still hundreds of miles away and they pose nothing of a threat to the United States, but the President used that language, obviously as we've talked about so many times, to galvanize his base. He just didn't like hearing that question. He didn't like being challenged on that point and he certainly doesn't like being called out for his falsehoods. But, of course, Jake, as you were just mentioning, that's our job, that's what we do over here, that’s what Wolf when he was over here as a White House correspondent as well and we can’t just be intimidated by that thing. I was struck by the fact that the President we thought was going to come in and do this victory lap, it sounded very much like a pity party. The way he was talking about lawmakers that wouldn't stand by him on the GOP side and various House races, he seems to be very unaware of the fact that his immigration rhetoric and his rhetoric on many levels was turning off a lot of suburban swing district voters. That’s why people like Mike Coffman in Colorado were staying away from him and he doesn't understand that. I think the other point that needs to be made is during this press conference, the President time and again seemed to be attacking journalists of color. He was attacking my friend April Ryan, telling her to sit down. At one point, he went after Yamiche Alcindor with PBS, saying that she had a racist question because she asked about this concern out there that when he says he’s a nationalist, that it’s dog-whistle to white nationalists all over the country. It was a very fair question. As a matter of fact, I asked it in the White House oval office a couple of weeks ago and he answered the question there. So, what I think we saw from the President — despite the fact that they were framing this as a victory lap and he was tweeting up a storm like he was all fired up for 2020, he sounded, I thought, very depressed, very despondent, almost defeated in the way he was talking about these election results. I think that's probably why you saw things spiral out of control. We're not used to — the President is not used to seeing himself lose and he lost big. He lost the House of Representatives and while there were a lot people are spinning there was a red wave in the Senate and so on, what we saw in the East Room during this White House press conference, guys, I thought was really an acknowledgement on the President's part that he does somewhat feel like he lost something yesterday and that he understands that the job moving forward is going to get a whole lot tougher in this town because he does have the House of Representatives now falling into the democratic hands. But, you know, as for being called the enemy of the people and so on, Jake, Wolf, all of our folks who are there on the set there with you, I think the American people know we're friends of the American people, we're going to defend the American people and we're going to stand up for our rights to seek the truth in this country, and the President can call us all the names in the world but we're going to keep doing our jobs. 

WOLF BLITZER: You know, let me read a statement that CNN has released following your exchange with the President at this news conference and other journalists' exchange and what the President was saying. This was a statement from CNN: “This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far.  They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.” That statement from the CNN communications department. You know, I’m not going to go back to Jim Acosta. I know he’s got a lot going on over there, but that’s a very strong statement from CNN. 

TAPPER: It’s a strong statement from CNN and look, Jim’s exchange with President Trump was not in a vacuum. I mean, President Trump attacked NBC, he attacked PBS, he attacked people from conservative news outlets, he attacked the press. He thinks questions — if you just read the transcript of what Acosta was asking the President and what President Trump's response was, Acosta was asking about the ads and he was asking about the Mueller investigation. Those are all legitimate lines of inquiry. That is our job to ask these questions. Now, maybe some people don't like how one or don’t like how another reporter asks a question. It doesn't really matter. The point is the questions. We are supposed to bring them to the President. The President's response was to personally, personally attack Jim Acosta. This is the President of the United States, all right. We’re not on equal footing. The President is way up here. Individual reporters are way down here. We are supposed to ask them questions and, yes, they always think we're rude, impertinent. Obama thought it, Bush thought it, Clinton thought it. It goes on and on and on. So the idea that CNN is putting out a statement like that is great and what I like about it the most is they're not just standing up for Acosta, they're talking about everybody in that room.

DANA BASH: And on that note, we shouldn’t forget — we mentioned it earlier but it bears repeating the President said not once, not twice, but three times that an African-American reporter's question — legitimate question about his use of the word nationalism, his embracing of that concept, that questioning that is racist, I don't even know where to start with that. It makes no sense at all. The term nationalism, anybody who has studied it for more than five minutes has an understanding that, of course, there are racial not just tinges to it, there's a racial bent to it. It has been used in a very racial way and whether he knew it or not, he should have known it and then by making it worse by calling an African-American reporter basically racist, saying her question was racist but it's not that different —

JOHN KING: But that's how he plays. That's how he plays. 

BLITZER: And remember — remember John —

BASH: This doesn't make sense. 

BLITZER: — the first time he said “I'm a nationalist,” he opened it by saying “I know I'm not supposed to say this.”

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: He knew. He knew.

BLITZER: He knew it was —

TAPPER: He knew that word that word baggage.

KING: He knows that word has baggage and he knew in the last weeks of the campaign where he escalated a legitimate debate about border security, a legitimate debate about illegal immigration into race baiting and fear-mongering and now he thinks it worked when he looks at the senate map and so that is his default to go to confrontation with the press, to accuse people of racism. The interesting thing, to me, beyond that, let’s take it to another wrinkle, the African-American woman journalist asking the question, that was the point I was trying to make the point earlier about Nancy Pelosi. In addition to the default to race, the default to fear, this President does not like being challenged by women and so I am just fascinated by the coming relationship, if Nancy Pelosi assumes the speakership and Donald Trump is the President for all this talking of reviving infrastructure week and cutting a deal on immigration, Nancy Pelosi in her own way, Trump does it with bombast. She does it with a smirk. I’m going to negotiate. She wants to be in that room.

BORGER: Yeah, she will challenge him, but let me just say today, this extraordinary spectacle we saw was full of threats and — and — and shaming of his own Republican members of Congress and journalists and, you know, it was full of grievance. I mean, you know, there's a man who came out and tried to make the case this was a great success for me. This is great, we kept the Senate, look at what I did, I was so important in winning the Senate and then he devolves into invective and grievance and makes the case that, maybe, he’s not so happy because he did lose — he did lose the House, but he doesn’t want to say it, but just listening to him today, anything that went wrong was about other people, it was about those Republicans who didn't hug him, it was about the media and — and if Nancy Pelosi tries to do anything to me, just wait. I’ll get it. So, instead of celebrating what he wanted to go out there and celebrate, he let us now how he really felt.

DAVID CHALIAN: I think what we may see, to your point about the relationship, this new world order in Washington, I think there are going to be pretty epic battles over the institutions and the President's attempted destruction of those institutions because Nancy Pelosi has made that a running argument of her entire fall campaign. She's not going to impeachment, she's not caught up much about tax returns initially right now, but she does day after day on the campaign trail and in the last 24 hours make this argument about institutions under attack and the Article I role in the Constitution and the First Amendment role of the free press, and this President has been on a strategic mission from the day he got in office to chip away at these institutions. I think we are going to see now that Democrats have some leg of a stool here of power, I do think we're going to see again and again they're going to knock heads over this very notion of whether or not our institutions are going to continue to be knocked down or actually built back up. 

KING: And we will soon hear from one of those institutions that he's also attacked, Robert Mueller. 

COATES: It is completely noticeable. I mean, no one would be delusional enough to think that every time you interrupt only the black female reporters, every time you try to silence somebody or patronize them because of their questioning that this goes unnoticed and, in fact, it’s proven by just last night's election results. The year of the woman became the day of the woman again. More than 100 women for the first time will represent Congress. It's not just Nancy Pelosi. It's about the two native American women for the first time. You have all the women who are coming in great strides. Having said, that the President's tactics in some way and the Republican party in terms of gerrymandering, in terms of voter suppression, those were successful in some areas. I think that notion by the President feeling emboldened by the aspect that if I can silence certain people votes, if I can be patronizing and condescending enough to deny them the right to exercise the franchise, I can carry that with me going forward. That's one of the most concerning thing for voters going forward, why you have a lawsuit in places like Georgia about having Brian Kemp overseeing the counting of the runoff, why you have people looking at these issues because people are noticing what happened today on a much grander scale and it will have consequences, if not today or yesterday, in 2020 most assuredly. 

DAVID GREGORY: And the flip side of what David was saying in terms of the attempts to chip at the at the institution of a free press, the reality is the opposite. The press — the media in this country are in a kind of golden time, doing our jobs, you know, holding power accountable, you know, being annoying, you know, challenging, which is what White House correspondents are there to do, but also shining a lot on what’s actually happening, there's a lot of great journalism and there's also bad journalism and the media has been fractured in a way that continues to unfold and evolve that both really bothers political figures, some know how to deal with it, some don't. We’re all trying to figure it out, but the reality is that the fundamentals of our job are really, really strong and they are revealing everything that the President is, his strengths, his weaknesses, his temperament, all of that is coming out because the press is doing its job. 

BLITZER: April Ryan, who’s a CNN contributor, has been a long-time correspondent. She tried to get a question to the President. Let me play this clip. 

[Trump VS. APRIL RYAN] 

BLITZER: April is joining us right now. She’s over at the White House. So, April, tell us how that went.

APRIL RYAN: Well, you saw how it went, Wolf. But Wolf, you know, like we have done for years, been here 21 years and this is not my first time at a press conference. There was an opening from one journalist to another, there was a space where I screamed out “Mr. President,” and I'm sitting in the second row: “Mr. President, what about voter suppression?” He heard me, he responded to me. I stood up thinking that he was going to continue and then he tells me to sit down. You heard him respond about voter suppression. Then he talked about voter suppression with CNN poll numbers and I’m like, you know, I stood up because that comment was kind of trite. I said, Mr. President, I said: “What about North Dakota, what about Florida as well as Georgia?” Because the NAACAP is now dealing with some of these voter irregularity issues they've been hearing in the state of Georgia and Florida. It was a very serious question. So he blew it off and then another reporter, Iesha Roscoe from NPR followed it up and he was flip on that as well. So he does not take this issue seriously. I mean, we sat there last night, we saw numbers, I saw video out of Atlanta, one video in particular that came from the Morehouse polling district in a black community that had a very low number of polling machines and they had a long line wrapped around on the inside and they had to get people like Reverend Jesse Jackson and others to help solve the situation. It was a real question. I asked him. He responded and then when he saw it was me, he told me to sit down. 

BLITZER: He did call on Yamiche Alcindor of PBS, the White House correspondent from PBS. I'm going to play that exchange he had with her. 

[Trump VS. ALCINDOR]

BLITZER: Let me get April's reaction to that. Go ahead, April.

RYAN: Yeah, I was in the room and I was taken aback to hear him say that was a racist statement or racist question. This President said that he's a nationalist. Define what a nationalist means. When he said he was a nationalist, there were people in the black community that were up in arms about it. When you say the word nationalist, all — you know, they feel that you have to put white next to it and that's the white supremacist groups and white supremacy and Yamiche asked a real question because there is a concern about saying he's a nationalist. He is a white man who is a nationalist and there are people who are concerned that that is code for white nationalist. What the President has to do now at this moment is to explain what his white nationalist — well, what his nationalism means as there is a linkage of white nationalist, but he's a nationalist. It's confusing, but there is a concern about it and Yamiche is now — she has the residue of hate, you know. He called her statement or question racist and he was insulted. It was not meant to be insulting. It was meant to get clarity on what he was saying, that's all. 

BLITZER: You know, Jake, reporters as we keep pointing out and you were a White House correspondent, I was a White House correspondent, at a news conference like this in the East Room of the White House, you stand up, you ask your question, it can be a very tough question, the President might not like it, very often Presidents don't like the questions, but I've never heard a President respond the way this President did. 

TAPPER: No and look, if the President has an explanation for his use of the word nationalist, I don't mean it that way, I'm trying to reclaim it, I just mean it in terms of I am not a globalist, I am about the United States, then make that explanation. You know, that is a perfectly logical explanation. The word has baggage. A lot of people have not used the word. I had Senator Santorum on my show a few weeks ago when President Trump said this and he said he would not call himself that because of the historical baggage of the word. Rick Santorum is not exactly some shrinking violet. I mean, if he felt strongly, he would use it, but he said I wouldn’t just because of the baggage, but if you want to make the argument, make the argument. The idea that any reporter asking that question, in particular an African-American woman is asking a racist question just boggles the mind. I mean, it is a perfectly legitimate question and I'm sure there is a perfectly legitimate answer. I've had conversations with conservatives that the idea that this is a code word, a dog whistle is not fair. The media is not being — it’s the media being biased, it’s the media being liberal. That's fine. Make the argument that the word is not racist, is not meant to be a dog whistle. That’s a perfectly logical way to do that.

KING: But let's not be surprised. Let’s not be surprised.

TAPPER: No, of course, but no one should be surprised because this is how the President does that. You challenge him, he attacks you harder and that's what this press conference was all about and I feel threatened, therefore I'm going to threaten everybody here. 


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