CNN's Jim Acosta "Owes an Apology" to Trump, Says Spokesman Sean Spicer
The incoming press secretary says CNN and BuzzFeed will retain their seats in the White House briefing room: "[Trump] doesn't stand down anybody. He'll take any question."
Donald Trump wants an apology, but he doesn't plan to blacklist CNN or even BuzzFeed after the explosive encounter that took place during his Wednesday press conference.
While speaking on Fox & Friends Thursday morning, Trump's incoming White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, delivered his account of the showdown between Trump and CNN's Jim Acosta during the president-elect's first news conference since the election, as well as Spicer's subsequent conversation with Acosta.
"[Acosta] verbally went after the president of the United States, was aggressive with him, inappropriate, rude, disrespectful to say the least. He shouted down over Mara Liasson, a well-respected long-time journalist who was asking a question," said Spicer on the Fox News show, adding that the CNN correspondent has a "false recollection of the facts."
After the presser — which devolved into a circus as Trump screamed at Acosta that he was "fake news" and ended the event by referencing his "You're fired" Apprentice catchphrase — Acosta spoke on CNN about the tense altercation with Trump, which stemmed from CNN's handling of the unverified report published by BuzzFeed the day prior. The unsubstantiated report claimed that Russia has gathered compromising information on Trump. ("I'm a very big germophobe," Trump noted during the conference in reference to one of the most salacious claims in the report.)
After the press conference, CNN stood by its reporting, saying in a statement it "represents the core of what the First Amendment protects." Acosta said Trump indicated ahead of the conference that he was not going to call on CNN for a question and that afterward Spicer threatened to throw him out.
Reporters captured Spicer and Acosta speaking after the conference on social media.
On Fox & Friends, Spicer said he went up to Acosta to explain that his behavior was "disrespectful, rude and unbecoming of someone addressing the president or president-elect of the United States" and that he would remove him if he did it again.
"But the idea that I shouted or tried to remove him during a press conference is just patently false," he added.
Spicer said a different CNN reporter had been given an opportunity to ask a question, though Acosta said he was attempting to ask Trump if there was contact between the Trump campaign and Russia in the context of his campaign. Trump later answered the question while exiting, saying there was not.
"The idea that he feels entitled to and acts in a way that's unbecoming frankly doesn't respect the press corps respectfully," said Spicer. "I think he owes an apology to the president-elect, to his fellow members of the press corps and especially to Mara Liasson, who was doing her job to ask a question in a respectful, polite manner."
Spicer said both CNN and BuzzFeed — the latter of which Trump called a "failing pile of garbage" during the conference — will be allowed to keep their seats in the White House briefing room.
But Spicer, who posted a graph on BuzzFeed's traffic to Twitter on Thursday, then added: "If you look at how quick BuzzFeed's failing, I'm not sure that they'll be around by the time we take office next week."
Still, "should they end up coming to the briefing room, the president-elect doesn't stand down anybody," he said. "He'll take any question."
After the press conference, BuzzFeed received more backlash when it quickly added a "Failing pile of garbage" T-shirt to its online store. After criticism that the outlet was monetizing the moment, deputy news director Tom Namako took to Twitter to say all proceeds would be going to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the press freedom group Meryl Streep mentioned during her Golden Globes speech.
Watch Spicer on Fox & Friends below.