CNN’s Jim Acosta is moving on from the White House, the network announced Monday. CNN is sending its signature Trump-era reporter to anchor weekend programming and serve as its chief domestic correspondent. Known for explosive fights with President Trump and his press secretaries, the reporter is known for prioritizing getting a sound bite or making an attack over actually asking meaningful questions. Below are some of his worst moments over the years.
When a cute video of two toddlers running across the street to hug and play went viral, it became the perfect basis for memes of all sorts. Donald Trump capitalized on the popularity, adding a satirical and obviously doctored CNN headline reading, “Terrified Toddler Runs From Racist Baby” and “Racist Baby Probably A Trump Voter,” clearly poking fun at the network’s propensity for taking the president’s words out of context.
Of course, Acosta had no sense of humor about the situation, claiming Trump was “exploit[ing] two toddlers” by making a joke from a widely circulated and edited video.
Along with mistaking jokes for misinformation, Acosta likewise struggled to distinguish poetry and policy when discussing immigration. During a press briefing, he began reading the text of the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, badgering Stephen Miller about differences between immigration policy and an engraving that has no bearing on the actual criteria for selecting who is granted legal entry into this country.
On the subject of immigration, CNN sent Acosta to report from a built section of the border wall with the intent of proving its inefficacy. He noted with pride that the section of the U.S.-Mexico border he visited was visibly not facing an immigration crisis, failing to realize that the peace he observed was a self-own. If a walled section of the border is safe and quiet, maybe the wall is working.
When coronavirus reached the United States from China in early 2020, many in the media decided the most vital debate was over terminology for describing the virus. Many referred to the disease with some reference to its origin in Wuhan, China, with CNN spending weeks referring to it as the “Chinese coronavirus” — that is, until Trump began calling it the “Chinese virus,” and other similar titles, which suddenly made it inherently racist to note that COVID-19 originated in communist-controlled Wuhan, China.
It’s surprising that dominating a conversation and refusing to move on after four increasingly combative questions was not the rudest thing Acosta did in one press conference, but physically overpowering a female White House staffer who attempted to take the microphone back from him was worse.
During a tense and thoroughly nonproductive exchange, Acosta shouted talking points disguised as questions about migrant caravans, long after Trump declared his intention to move on to other reporters. When the young woman arrived to take the microphone from Acosta, he refused to hand it over. It was during this exchange that Trump made the now-infamous charge, declaring Acosta and other journalists he deemed to be liars as “the enemy of the people.”
Of course, Acosta was not prepared to take the “enemy of the people” comment lying down, instead framing the targeted jab as an attack on the media. After getting his ego stroked on Stephen Colbert’s show, he ranted to Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a press briefing about the comment, in an effort to pressure her into repeating his outrage over the offhanded remarks. When Sanders held her ground, Acosta stormed out of the briefing room in a huff.
After Acosta’s exchange with the female staffer, the White House temporarily revoked his press pass, leading to CNN suing the administration. The standoff lasted nearly two weeks before the White House relented and Acosta was permitted to return to his regularly scheduled fights with Trump and his press secretaries.
It’s not just Trump and his press secretaries whom Acosta aggressively harassed for comments, but he also attempted to force Martin Luther King III into expressing outrage through a series of leading questions after a meeting with the president.
In the summer of 2020, the media appeared to collectively decide that social distancing measures were irrelevant so long as the mass congregations were either leftist protests or riots. The same luxury was not afforded to Trump rallies, however.
When Acosta, on multiple occasions pushed press secretary Kayleigh McEnany about the health concerns of the rallies, she reminded him of the countless times the corporate media praised the crowded, often maskless protests and riots, forcing him to admit that the difference was purely ideological.
Even Chris Wallace, who has had his fair share of tensions with the president — particularly during the 2020 debates — was “horrified” by Acosta’s politicization of reporting on Trump, particularly during one heated New Delhi press conference. Acosta used his question to ask for a pledge that the president would accept no foreign help for future elections, while also questioning the credentials of Richard Grenell, who had just been named acting director of national intelligence.
The pair sparred over their respective records with the truth, with Acosta claiming CNN had a better record on honesty than Trump, to which the president replied, “Your record is so bad, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”