White House press briefing goes off the rails as CNN's Jim Acosta battles with Sarah Huckabee Sanders over whether the media is 'enemy of the people'

  • The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, declined to say when pressed by CNN’s Jim Acosta whether she considered the press to be the “enemy” of the American people, something President Donald Trump has asserted in the past.
  • Sanders instead bashed news organisations’ approach to various issues.
  • Sanders also said media outlets “frequently lower the level of conversation in this country.”

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Thursday declined to say when pressed by CNN’s Jim Acosta whether she considered the press to be the “enemy” of the American people, something President Donald Trump has asserted in the past.

Sanders instead bashed news organisations’ approach to various issues, including how she was treated by the comedian Michelle Wolf at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, saying the correspondents’ association “brought a comedian up to attack my appearance.”

Sanders also said media outlets “frequently lower the level of conversation in this country.”

After Thursday’s briefing, Acosta tweeted: “I walked out of the end of that briefing because I am totally saddened by what just happened. Sarah Sanders was repeatedly given a chance to say the press is not the enemy and she wouldn’t do it. Shameful.”

And in a subsequent conversation with his CNN colleague Brooke Baldwin, Acosta, who was recently heckled at a Trump rally, said that “maybe all journalists should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue and chant, ‘We are not the enemy of the people.'”

“It is not right, it is not fair, it is not just, it is un-American to come out here and call the press the enemy of the people,” Acosta added.

Thursday was the second day in a row Sanders has lambasted the media. On Wednesday, Sanders accused the press of putting lives in danger by reporting on leaked classified intelligence, citing an urban myth regarding coverage of the Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden from roughly 20 years ago.

The White House press secretary has continuously stood by the president’s controversial rhetoric and demeanour toward the media.

Trump has repeatedly referred to the press as the “enemy of the American people” and “fake news.” The president has often singled out reporters at his rallies or directed more general negative remarks at members of the media covering his events.

Earlier Thursday, Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and an assistant to him, broke with her father and said she did not believe the press was the “enemy of the people.”

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