On Wednesday Nov. 7, President Trump had a number of heated exchanges with White House reporters during a news conference held to discuss the results of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Trump was hostile throughout the press conference and refused to answer a follow-up question by CNN reporter Jim Acosta. Acosta was persistent in asking Trump about classification of the Honduran refugee caravan’s march toward the U.S. border. Trump repeatedly spoke loudly over Acosta and demanded that Acosta hand over the microphone to White House staff.
When a White House staffer tried to take the microphone away from Acosta, Acosta yanked back, which lead to a heated exchange in which Acosta refused to hand over the microphone and continued to ask Trump questions.
“I tell you what: CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you work for them,” Trump said. “You are a rude, terrible person.”
Trump ended the exchange by moving away from the microphone.
Trump later suspended Acosta’s White House press pass and said Acosta is not the only journalist he might ban from the White House.
This is not Trump’s first heated exchange with the press, and I am sure it will not be his last. However, one of the roles of the news media is to question and challenge power, and it is a fundamental role of living in a democratic society. Trump is not the first president to have troubled relations with the press, but no past president has gone as far as Trump has on banning members of the press who disagree with him from the White House.
Trump’s exchange with Acosta has only reinforced his inability to deal with criticism or tough questions in any other way but to get angry and attack.
Acosta has regularly asked Trump tough questions, and this was not their first heated exchange of words.
Being angry is one thing, but by suspending Acosta’s press pass, Trump has indicated that in his view, asking tough questions, which is the most basic function of being a journalist, may lead to being banned from attending White House press conferences.
Trump’s exchange with Acosta demonstrated once again Trump’s ignorance of the role of the free press in democracy.
Trump constantly calls any media that does not agree with him “fake news” and has even gone so far as to call news organizations “the enemy of the people.” Trump’s outlandish claims only harm the reputation of the press because he has done everything to damage and undermine them.
I’m sure Trump would prefer that every member of the White House press be like Sean Hannity who never challenges anything Trump says. Unfortunately for Trump, that cannot and will not happen.
Trump has the biggest job in America as president of the United States. He needs to recognize the role that our press has always played in our democratic society. Running a country is not an easy role and every president, even the best presidents, have had their fair share of criticism. But the presidents before him took the challenges and criticism from the press because they recognized the vital function the free press plays in our democratic society.
If Trump constantly loses his temper and cannot handle being asked tough questions by reporters or being challenged on his outlandish beliefs, how can we expect him to run our country?