This time, the White House released an allegedly doctored video to spread a fake story that Acosta overly aggressive toward a White House intern managing the microphone during a press briefing Wednesday. The White House then revoked Acosta’s press credentials Wednesday night.
Acosta and the White House have tangled before. Trump views CNN as his biggest media enemy, often referring to the network as “fake news” and insulting its reporters. And Acosta has a reputation for pointing out when the president or White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders say something false.
Here are eight moments when Acosta sparred with the Trump White House.
After one of Trump’s first briefings as president, Acosta lamented that he seemed to avoid tough questions.
- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Following one of Trump’s first press briefings after his inauguration, in February 2017, Acosta pointed out that Trump appeared to be calling on news outlets he thought would be friendly.
Acosta told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that Trump only wanted to speak to politically conservative publications that wouldn’t probe about his alleged contacts with Russian officials, which was the major story at the time.
“In the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by conservative press. I think, Wolf, there’s no other way to describe it, but the fix is in,” Acosta said. “This president does not want to answer questions, critical questions about his associates, his aide’s contacts with the Russians during the course of that campaign, just as his national security adviser is being run out of the White House on a rail.”
After being confronted about Acosta being heckled, Sarah Huckabee Sanders spread a false story about US media foiling plans to track Osama bin Laden.
Trump frequently taunts the media during his campaign rallies, and his crowds often chant “CNN sucks.” The refrain drew widespread attention in July, when Acosta shared video footage of people heckling him while he reported from one such rally.
Trump supporters were even denounced by Anthony Scaramucci, who had a brief stint as Trump’s White House communications director.
When Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, was asked about the event at a White House press conference she deflected the question and stressed that journalists should “act responsibly and report accurately and fairly.”
She then pivoted to a long-debunked urban myth, alleging that US media reports foiled a plan to track down former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. According to this false story, journalists leaked classified information that led bin Laden to stop using a satellite phone, which caused the US government to lose vital intelligence about him.
The fake story was previously spread by President George W. Bush in 2005, and debunked back then as well. A Washington Post analysis of news stories about bin Laden’s phone determined that US media reported about intelligence agencies tracking his phone after he had already stopped using it.
Trump ignored Acosta when he asked about five people being murdered in a Maryland newsroom.
After a shooter murdered five people in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland in June, Acosta asked Trump whether he’d stop calling members of the press “the enemy of the people.”
Acosta shouted his questions at the end of a speech Trump gave celebrating the six-month anniversary of tax reform bill he signed. Trump ignored him and continued to call the media America’s enemy.
While some people criticized Acosta, saying he was grandstanding, Acosta later defended his behavior on CNN.
“Listen, if they want to send me to hell, I’ll still be shouting at the devil,” Acosta said. “We have a job to do. I’ve said this times before and I’ll say it again. They can kick us out of the briefing room, they can kick us out of the White House. We’re still going to do our jobs.”
Acosta and Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale argued over the First Amendment.
- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The tax cut speech wasn’t the first time Acosta shouted questions during an event. At the White House’s Easter Easter Egg Roll event in April, Acosta asked the president about ending DACA.
“The Democrats have really let them down,” Trump replied.
Trump himself attempted to end DACA, but federal courts ultimately upheld it.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign manager, said Acosta’s press credentials should be suspended for yelling during the Easter event.
“I think the White House should pull credentials because he yelled questions, as he continues to do at inappropriate times, while the President was coloring books with children,” Parscale said on Twitter. “Disrespectful and would have never been allowed previously.”
Acosta defended himself.
“Just doing my job.. which is protected by the First Amendment of The Constitution,” he said on Twitter. “You might want to give it a read.”
Following the Easter incident, Trump lashed out at CNN’s president.
- Evan Agostini/Getty Images
After the tussle between Acosta and Parscale, Trump tweeted criticism of Jeff Zucker, CNN’s president and the former NBC executive who greenlit “The Apprentice” years ago. Trump misspelled Zucker’s name in his tweet.
“Check out the fact that you can’t get a job at ratings challenged @CNN unless you state that you are totally anti-Trump? Little Jeff Zuker, whose job is in jeopardy, is not having much fun lately,” Trump tweeted. “They should clean up and strengthen CNN and get back to honest reporting!”
Zucker is still employed as CNN’s president.
Acosta sparred with Stephen Miller over slashing the number of immigrants who don’t speak English.
In August 2017, Trump’s far-right anti-immigrant policy advisor Stephen Miller took the White House podium. He discussed Trump’s support of a bill that would have halved the number of immigrants the United States legally permits into the country, taking English language skills into consideration. (The bill never passed, but Trump has used his executive powers to severely limit the number of immigrants legally permitted to come to the US.)
Acosta quoted “The New Colossus,” the poem written on the Statue of Liberty to Miller, and the two argued over what it meant to be an American. Acosta asked whether Miller wanted only people from Great Britain and Australia to be allowed into the US.
“I am shocked at your statement that you think only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English,” Miller said. “It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.”
Miller’s performance was denounced by Eric Bolling on Fox News, Trump’s biggest media ally.
“Don’t put that guy in front of the cameras again,” Bolling said.
Acosta railed against Trump spreading conspiracy theories.
- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
In June 2017, Acosta gave a monologue on CNN about the many falsehoods and conspiracy theories repeated by Trump and Huckabee Sanders.
He took aim at birtherism, the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Trump was the chief purveyor of the theory.
“The president of the United States is also a purveyor of fake news,” Acosta said. “He is the founding father of birtherism.”
Acosta listed off a series of debunked stories shared by Trump and other White House staff members, such as Sean Spicer’s argument that Trump’s inauguration crowds were bigger than Barack Obama’s in 2009.
“[Trump] came out right after his inauguration and said his inauguration crowds were bigger than President Obama’s, when they weren’t,” Acosta said. “We had photographic evidence from the National Parks Service to prove that point.”
Acosta criticized Sean Spicer for holding press conferences that news outlets weren’t permitted to record.
- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
For a time under Sean Spicer’s tenure as press secretary, Spicer forbade news outlets from recording press briefings. It’s not clear why news outlets complied with Spicer’s rule, but CNN sent a courtroom sketch artist to the White House briefing room instead.
Acosta railed against the no-camera rule that June while speaking to his colleague Brooke Baldwin.
“The White House press secretary is getting to a point, Brooke, where he’s just kind of useless,” Acosta said on CNN. “If he can’t come out and answer the questions, and they’re just not going to do this on camera or audio, why are we even having these briefings or these gaggles in the first place?”