Trump had CNN’s Jim Acosta ejected from the Oval Office for asking him about racism — which Acosta considers a point of pride.
On Monday, hounded by questions about his racist immigration diatribe, Donald Trump summarily had CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta ejected from the Oval Office with a barked command of “Out!”
It was a stupefying move for Trump to eject a reporter based on his line of questioning.
But Acosta himself is not rattled. In fact, he is proud.
On Wednesday, at a reporter panel at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., titled “Journalism in the Trump Era: Assessing Press Freedom in the United States,” Acosta made no apology for asking Trump the hard questions.
“April [Ryan] asked the question on Friday, which I thought was a legitimate question, asking the president, are you a racist?” Acosta said. “That was a totally legitimate question … when the President of the United States says you’re coming from a ‘shithole country’ if you come from Africa, and that we want more people coming in from Norway?”
“Goddamnit, I will say it out loud,” he continued vehemently. “It is our right, it is our duty, it is our role to ask the president of the United States if he’s a racist.”
Acosta was having none of Trump’s abuse of the media.
“My belief is, and it is a strong belief, is that the President of the United States is acting in a way that is simply unpresidential when it comes to dealing with members of the press. We should not tolerate this,” said Acosta. “It is not right to call us the enemy of the people. It is not right to call us fake news. It is not right to retweet images of the president tackling reporters, running them over with trains, squashing them like a bug.”
April Ryan agreed, noting, “This is not China. This is not Russia. This is the United States of America.”
And as for what happened to Acosta personally?
“When I got thrown out of the Oval Office, or told to get out of the Oval Office — to me, that is a badge of honor,” he said. “I had a colleague who said, you send me the transcript without underline and red ink. He said frame it. And I am going to frame it.”
Acosta has adopted a fearlessly confrontational role against the Trump administration, which has made him no friends at the White House. In January 2017, before Trump had even been sworn in, former press secretary Sean Spicer threatened to have Acosta removed from a press conference for challenging Trump’s attacks on “fake news.”
And in June, Acosta proposed journalists boycott press briefings entirely, saying that the White House interactions with reporters were too “strange and bizarre” to be of any use.
Acosta does not rate Trump on a curve, and he has never minced words when seeking the truth. Which is likely why Trump would rather throw him out than answer his questions.