Shortly after President Trump’s well-documented spat with Jim Acosta at Wednesday's White House press conference, several other reporters clearly sought the spotlight as they directed gotcha questions at the President, accusing him of “pitting Americans against one another” and “emboldening white nationalists.”
Immediately after the dust-up with Acosta, President Trump called on NBC’s Peter Alexander, who rushed to Acosta’s defense after President Trump called him a “rude, terrible person.” Trump told Alexander that “I’m not a big fan of yours, either.”
Before Alexander could actually ask his question, Acosta made another attempt to badger the President even without a microphone. As President Trump angrily told him to sit down, Acosta apparently asked him a question related to the pipe bombs sent to high-profile Democratic Party officials, left-wing activists, and the media; attempting to blame the President’s use of the term “enemy of the people” for the pipe bomb scare. President Trump responded, “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
Alexander scolded the President for saying that “Americans need to fear Democrats,” warning of a “wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere.” After Alexander’s mini-lecture, he asked: “Why are you pitting Americans against one another?” At this point, President Trump asked Alexander in reference to Acosta: “Why are you trying to be him?”
Later, the President called on Yamiche Alcindor of PBS, who all too happily asked him another “gotcha” question that had nothing to do with the topic of the press conference, the results of the 2018 midterm elections. Alcindor brought up the President’s description of himself as a “nationalist,” saying “some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists.”
President Trump responded by deeming it “such a racist question,” although it was more of a statement than a question. Alcindor continued: “There are some people that say that now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalism because of your rhetoric.”
President Trump disagreed with that assertion, clarifying what he meant when he described himself as a nationalist: “You know what the word is? I love our country. I do. You call....you have nationalists, you have globalists. I also love the world. And I don’t mind helping the world. But we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems.”
Based on the behavior of the media and the President at the first post-midterm press conference yesterday, it looks safe to assume that there is no thaw in the frosty relationship between President Trump and the press on the horizon.
A transcript of the exchange between President Trump and Alexander is below. Click “expand” to read more.
White House Press Conference
12:27 p.m. Eastern
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Go ahead, Peter. Go ahead.
PETER ALEXANDER: In…in Jim’s defense, I’ve traveled with him and watched him. He’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’m not a big fan of yours, either, so you know...
ALEXANDER: I understand, so let me...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: To be honest with you.
ALEXANDER: So let me ask you a question, if I can. You repeatedly said...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You aren’t…you aren’t the best.
ALEXANDER: Mr. President, you repeatedly, over the course of the...
JIM ACOSTA: (OFF-MIKE)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay. Just sit down please.
ACOSTA: (OFF-MIKE) campaign and sent pipe bombs (inaudible)...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, when you…when you report fake news…no. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people. Go ahead.
ALEXANDER: Mr. President, over the course...
ALEXANDER: Over the course of the last several days of the campaign, sir…sir, at the end of the campaign, you repeatedly said that Americans need to fear Democrats. You said Democrats would unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere. Why are you pitting Americans...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because they’re very weak on crime. Excuse me.
ALEXANDER: Why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Peter. Peter, what, are you trying to be him?
ALEXANDER: No, I’m just asking the question.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Peter, let me just…let me just tell you, very simple: because they’re very weak on crime. Because they have often suggested, members and people within the Democrat Party at a high level have suggested getting rid of ICE, getting rid of law enforcement. That’s not going to happen, okay? We want to be strong on the borders. We want to be strong on law enforcement. And I want to…I want to cherish ICE, because ICE does a fantastic job.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: The…the, what they do for us is so…really, it’s so unrecognized how good a job they do. So we want to take care of them, and we want to hold them very close, because they do a good job. Okay, yeah, go ahead.
ALEXANDER: But the question, to be clear…to be clear, though, the question is why are you...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Sit…sit down, Peter.
ALEXANDER: But the question…but you didn’t answer my question. Just very simply, the question is, why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m not.
ALEXANDER: Is that how you view...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I’m not.
ALEXANDER: ... citizens of this country?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, look, I’ll tell you what: We won a lot of elections last night, we did very well last night, and I think it's going to have...
ALEXANDER: But in many ways, it’s dividing the country.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... I think it’s going to have a very positive impact. I watched NBC this morning. They didn’t report it exactly correctly, but that’s, you know, very…very…that’s the fact with NBC. Nothing I can do about that. But I want this country to have protection. We want security in our country. I want security, Peter. I mean, you maybe don’t think it’s so important. And I think when you don’t have it, you are, indeed, unleashing crime. I feel that.
A transcript of the exchange between President Trump and Alcindor is below.
White House Press Conference
01:04 p.m. Eastern
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Hi, Mr. President. Yamiche Alcindor with PBS NewsHour. On the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t know why you’d say that.
ALCINDOR: ... that the President...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s such a racist question.
ALCINDOR: There are some people that say that now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalism because of your rhetoric.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it.
ALCINDOR: What do you make of that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t believe it. I just…well, I don’t know, why do I have my highest poll numbers ever with African-Americans? Why do I have among the highest poll numbers with African-Americans? I mean, why do I have my highest poll numbers…that’s such a racist question. Honestly, I mean, I know you have it written down and you’re going to tell me…let me tell you. It’s a racist question. I love...
ALCINDOR: And, Mr. President, I...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: …you know what the word is? I love our country. I do. You call… you have nationalists, you have globalists. I also love the world. And I don’t mind helping the world. But we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me. But to say that, what you said, is so insulting to me, it’s a very terrible thing that you said.