President Donald Trump escalated his long-running feud with the media this week, including during a particularly heated exchange with Jim Acosta that led to the White House suspending the CNN reporter’s credentials.
While the Acosta dustup, and the apparently doctored video the White House released to justify the correspondent’s banishment, has received the most attention, the president’s attacks on the media this week also renewed criticisms of his treatment of black journalists.
Trump went after three black female reporters this week — all for the offense of asking him legitimate, relevant questions.
On Wednesday, at the press conference where he got into a shouting match with Acosta, Trump angrily told American Urban Radio White House correspondent and CNN contributor April Ryan to “sit down” several times as she attempted to ask him a question about alleged voter suppression in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Later in the same press conference, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump about the racial overtones of him identifying himself as a “nationalist” during a recent campaign rally. Trump responded by labeling the black reporter’s question as somehow “racist” and berating her for “insulting” him.
“It’s a very terrible thing that you said,” Trump told her.
His attacks on the press, and particularly his bizarre accusations of racism against Alcindor, were immediately met with pushback. But Trump wasn’t finished.
During a press scrum as he left the White House on Friday, CNN reporter Abby Phillip asked Trump if his hiring of Matthew Whitaker to replace Jeff Sessions at the top of the Department of Justice was an attempt to rein in special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump scolded her and, as in a number of his attacks on prominent African-Americans, insulted her intelligence.
“What a stupid question that is,” Trump said, sneering at her. “What a stupid question.”
“But I watch you a lot — you ask a lot of stupid questions,” Trump added.
Trump also suggested Friday that the White House could revoke Ryan’s press pass, as it did with Acosta’s, referring to her as a “loser.”
“She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing,” Trump said of Ryan. “She’s very nasty and she shouldn’t be.”
“You’ve got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect,” he added.
Trump, who routinely calls the media the “enemy of the people,” is obviously no stranger to attacks on the press. But critics have noted that, in his attacks on black journalists and other prominent African-Americans, Trump seems particularly eager to insult his target’s intelligence.
Take Don Lemon.
Trump has repeatedly referred to the CNN anchor as “the dumbest man on television,” including in an unhinged tweet after NBA superstar LeBron James offered measured criticism of his presidency during an August interview with Lemon.
Intelligence-based insults have figured into a number of other of his attacks on his black critics, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), whom he describes as “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”
Trump has faced backlash for his latest rounds of attacks on black reporters.
“Trump loves to punch,” CNN’s Brooke Baldwin said Friday in defense of her colleagues. “But this is something else. This feels personal. Among the multiple reporters this president has insulted this week, three are African-American women. These are not only fair questions they are asking of him — these are the most important questions about this White House. And it pushes his buttons, and this is where he goes.”
Ryan herself slammed Trump for his “unmistakable pattern” of reserving some of his most personal and vicious invective for women of color, writing that his bullying has put “a stain on the highest office in the land.”
“Though there’s hardly anyone — from his predecessors to senators in his own party — he won’t try to shout down with ad hominem insults, Trump relishes, and injects venom into, verbal attacks against women of color,” Ryan wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday. “He leaves little doubt about what he really thinks of us.”