US President Donald Trump’s relationship with the media has deteriorated further after a news conference where he called some reporters rude and accused one of posing a racist question.
Mr Trumgp ordered reporter April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks to sit down when she tried to ask him a question before saying “It’s such a hostile media” at his post-midterm elections conference.
His exchanges with Jim Acosta from news channel CNN and Peter Alexander from broadcaster NBC turned bitterly personal.
Mr Acosta and Mr Trump began sparring after the CNN White House correspondent asked him about why a so-called caravan of migrants heading from Latin America to the southern US border was emphasised as an issue in the just-concluded midterm races. Mr Acosta questioned Mr Trump calling the migrants march an invasion and Mr Trump defended the term.
“You should let me run the country,” Mr Trump said. “You run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”
When Mr Acosta pressed on with another question, Mr Trump said: “That’s enough!”
A White House aide then unsuccessfully tried to grab the microphone from Mr Acosta.
Mr Trump said: “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you work for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. The way you treat Sarah Sanders is horrible. The way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
Mr Alexander came to his colleague’s defence.
He said: “I’ve travelled with him and watched him. He’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.
Mr Trump replied: “I’m not a big fan of yours, either.”
“I understand,” Mr Alexander said, attempting to ask a question.
At that point, Mr Acosta stood back up and began mentioning, without a microphone, the explosive devices that were recently sent to CNN and some of the president’s political opponents.
“Just sit down,” Mr Trump said. “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
CNN, through its public relations department Twitter feed, said that Mr Trump’s attacks on the press have gone too far.
“They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” CNN said.
“While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”
Mr Trump made several references in his news conference to how he feels mistreated by the press. He said he is damned by the press for having either too few, too many or just the right amount of press availibilities.
He turned specifically on reporter Yamiche Alcindor.
She said: “On the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists…”
Mr Trump interrupted her, calling it a racist question.
Ms Alcindor pressed on: “There are some people who say the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric. What do you say to that?”
Mr Trump talked about his supposed popularity with black Americans, and said he is more interested in advancing America’s interests than having a globalist point of view.
He said: “To say that, what you said, is so insulting to me. It’s a very terrible thing you said to me.”
Ms Alcindor moved on to a different topic.
Later, via Twitter, she said that she has interviewed white nationalists who say they are more excited by Mr Trump than they have been about other presidents.
“Even if President Trump doesn’t intend it, some see him as directly appealing to the racists,” she wrote.
On CNN, anchor Jake Tapper said that there was nothing racist about her question and that Mr Trump’s reaction was unfathomable.
Mr Trump told Ms Ryan repeatedly to sit down when she attempted to ask Mr Trump about charges of voter suppression.
He said she was rude for interrupting another reporter, although he did briefly answer one of Ms Ryan’s questions.