At the White House press conference yesterday, the president berated CNN reporter Jim Acosta as he was asking a question about the caravan and Donald Trump’s use of the word “invasion” to describe it. As Acosta sought an answer from the president, a young female White House intern repeatedly tried to grab the microphone out of Acosta’s hands. Later in the evening, the White House pulled Acosta’s press card giving him access to the building and its staff.
Trump’s hostility to Acosta at the press conference followed weeks of Trump rallies during which Acosta was continuously harassed by Trump supporters. I went to cover one of those rallies on October 31 in Fort Myers, Florida.
For the Trump audience, demeaning Acosta is a bonding experience. He is both an enemy and a selfie trophy. I saw a father directing his young daughter to walk by the press cage and take a photograph of Acosta with her phone. When she did, he put his arm around her in affirmation. For Acosta, the experience appears harrowing. The CNN anchor comes across as gentle and unassuming in person, but clearly the attention from Trump’s supporters is exhausting, mystifying and no doubt distressing as he could be seen working with security guards on either side of him.