CNNs Jim Acosta: The Trump Trolls Who Want Me Dead


After all the insults, acrimonious exchanges, accusations of grandstanding, attacks by Fox News personalities, and even occasional death threats from Donald Trump-loving trolls, Jim Acosta is just flesh and blood.

Not everybody is comfortable taking this guy on, CNNs chief White House correspondent told The Daily Beast on Thursdaythis guy meaning the president ofthe United States. Its uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable.

During a weekin which, as usual, the cable news combatant and Trump White House officials past and present tangled like scorpions in a bottle, Acosta conceded: It can be stressful. But I dont want it interpreted as Jim is in a fetal position on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

The46-year-old Acosta is, by most appearances, the journalist most likely to receive this White Houses Most Hated prizea designation he claims to wear as a badge of honor.

Acostas gladiatorial relationship with this White House dates back at least to the notorious Trump Tower press conference of Jan. 11, 2017, when the then-president elect refused recognize him for a question after Spicer, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and Trump himself laced into CNN for reporting on the existence of a damaging dossier on which Trump had just been briefed by the FBI.

Not youyour organization is terrible! Trump insisted as Acosta kept shouting for recognition. Dont be rude, Trump ordered. Im not going to give you a question. You are fake news!

Mr. President-elect, thats not appropriate! Acosta yelled back.

After the white nationalist and neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville last August, Acosta scolded Trump when he notoriously suggestedonce again, during a Trump Tower press conferencethatthere were very fine people on both sides during the lethal protests.

No, sir, there are no fine people in the Nazis, Acosta fact-checkedthe president.

With his confrontational style, Acosta sees himselfas honoring the tradition of the legendarily loud-mouthed ABC News White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, the scourge ofthe Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan White Houses.

Donaldson, a virtuoso in the performance art of television news, frequently teased headline-making answers from his shouted questions at the president.

The 84-year-old Donaldson, now retired, returns the favor. I think hes as good as it gets, he told The Daily Beast about Acosta. And when I say that, Im not damning with faint praise. Hes good.

Much like the man he covers, Acosta seems to have an uncommon tolerance, maybe even an appetite, for conflict in the workplace. His latest clashes involve the former and current White House press secretaries, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

On Tuesday nights installment of Fox News Hannitywhose host, like Tucker Carlson and Jesse Watters, has repeatedly skewered Acostas alleged anti-Trump bias, with Sean Hannity most recently referring to him as that idiot over at fake newsSpicer claimed: Lets be honest. Jim Acosta is a carnival barker in the press room that is both clueless and classless.

Acosta retorted on Twitter: I miss you too, an appreciably more diplomatic response than his on-air comments of last June, when he called Spicer just kind of useless.

My question about Sean is whether hes trying to be relevant and come back into the conversation by ripping into journalists he doesnt like, Acosta said about his former daily antagonist. I had a decent relationship with him before he came to the White House.

After Mondays press briefing, in which Sanders didnt call on him, Acosta tweeted that she hadnt taken a question from CNN for three briefings running, and punctuated his complaint with the hashtag #courage.

Noting that two wounded Iraq war veterans had been her guests on the podium, Sanders fired back: Courage isnt taking a question from CNN, Jim. Courage is combat veterans Sgt. Peck and Staff Sgt. Dwyerthe two heroes at the briefing.

If you look at what hes doing, the questions hes asking, the questions hes pushing back on, his refusal to accept a bunch of hooey, yes, in a way that is grandstanding. But thank goodness hes doing it.

She needled Acosta with the hashtag #itsnotaboutyouechoing a familiar critique, not only from Trump staffers but also from colleagues and rivals in the Washington media, that Acosta is all too happy to preen for the cameraa critique that also attached itself to Donaldson.

People who stick their head above the crowd get hit by rotten fruit, Donaldson said, quoting an old adage. Jim sticks his head above the crowd. But if you look at what hes doing, the questions hes asking, the questions hes pushing back on, his refusal to accept a bunch of hooey, yes, in a way that is grandstanding. But thank goodness hes doing it.

If Acosta enjoys the skirmishing,his work life can still be unnerving from time to time when angry amateurs leap into the fray.

I receive morethreats than I could count; its almost every week… The company is aware, and theyve urged me to take precautions.

I receive morethreats than I could count; its almost every week, said Acosta, a soon-to-be-divorced father of twomentioning one social media denizen who reacted to a recent Instagram photo of the CNN correspondent on a ski vacation by wishing that hed race into a tree and kill himself; and a second troll who hoped hed get cancer.

I dont think we should go too deeply into it, Acosta added. The company is aware, and theyve urged me to take precautions.

He said, however, that most of the feedback he gets from members of the publicand even in private messages from Republican operativesis encouraging.

There are a lot of people who feel deep down that what the president is doing, and what the White House is doing, is deeply wrong in terms of attacking the press, Acosta asserted, noting the vicious termsenemy of the people, dishonest, lowest form of life, scumthat Trump has thrown into his battle with the news media.

Acostaa Cuban immigrants son who grew up in the Washington, D. C., suburbs and snagged jobs at a variety of local radio and television outlets before joining CBS News and ultimately CNNlikened covering the Trump White House to his days as abreaking newsreporter running to tornadoes and hurricanes.

As with the unpredictability of foul weather, Acosta added, This is a White House staff that is sort of at the mercy of this presidentleadingto an overwhelming impression of chaos and seat-of-the-pants policymaking, as with Thursday nights whiplash-inducing announcement of face-to-face talks between Trump and brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

My sense is that in the the same way Americans gottired of watching The Apprentice onNBC, theyre eventually going to get weary of this reality TV-style presidentwhich is essentially what we have right now.

At any given moment, Acosta said, this is a presidentwho can completely change the news cycle. Some of that is intentionalhe knows what hes doing when he wants to change the narrativefrom Stormy Daniels to tariffs to Korea, for instancebut Acosta said Trumps scattershot conduct also breeds chaos and confusion.

My sense is that in the the same way Americans gottired of watching The Apprentice onNBC, theyre eventually going to get weary of this reality TV-style presidentwhich is essentially what we have right now.

By now, Acosta said, very little that emerges fromthis White House surprises him. But the abrupt resignation of White House communications director Hope Hicks, whom Acosta got to know while coveringthe 2016 campaign, totally shocked me, he said.

Acosta also admittedthat, likethe rest of the media-political establishment, he never expected Trump to win. I thought the Access Hollywoodtape was a fatal blow, he said.

Acosta said the way he approaches his beat has been unaffected by the legal wrangling between the Trump administration and Time Warner, CNNs parent company, overthe Justice Departments opposition to Time Warners proposed merger with AT&T.

He cannot stop a free press. It isnt going to happen. Its just patently un-American. I think there would be tremendous pushback from Capitol Hill to California, and there would be a hue and cry in this country.

Its a stance that has prompted a lawsuit and fueled speculation that the real Trumpian agenda is to get back at CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, a former friend (Zucker greenlighted The Apprentice at NBC) about whom the president bitterly and frequently complains for allegedly unfair coverage.

No matter what this president wants to do or thinks he can do, Acosta saidciting Trumps musings during the presidential campaign about curtailing First Amendment freedoms and open[ing] up the libel lawshe cannot stop a free press. It isnt going to happen. Its just patently un-American. I think there would be tremendous pushback from Capitol Hill to California, and there would be a hue and cry in this country.

In the meantime, Acosta said he plans to continue to be aggressive, even if it means antagonizing the president and his underlings.

There are days whenyou cant be the shrinking violet, he said. Im going to do my damn job.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/cnns-jim-acosta-the-trump-trolls-who-want-me-dead

Watters' Words: Jim Acosta has crossed the line

The CNN correspondent has gone from being an objective White House press reporter to a self-serving political pundit advocating his own agenda