CNN’s Jim Acosta claimed on Friday that he has gotten phone calls from President Donald Trump’s aides who secretly tell him that the president believes that he is “very professional,” and that the president’s public attacks on Acosta was just part of “an act” that the president does.
Appearing on the Canadian news show, “The Agenda with Steve Paikin,” Acosta made the remarks claiming that Trump’s intense criticism of news organizations and journalists who are dishonest or heavily biased was all just “an act.”
Speaking on his new book, Acosta noted a press conference from February 2017 where Trump called him “very fake news,” saying that it was after this press conference that he got a call from one of Trump’s top aides.
“After the press conference was over, I got a call from one of his top aides, Hope Hicks, and she said to me on the phone, ‘Jim, I just want you to know the president thought you were very professional today and said Jim gets it,'” Acosta claimed.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wait a minute, the president just referred to me as very fake news five minutes ago and now he’s saying I’m professional and I get it?'” Acosta recalled of the alleged phone call. “I don’t know what’s going on here, am I in the twilight zone?'”
“I talked to a number of his aides and they basically explained, ‘Jim, this is an act, he doesn’t really mean it’ and so on,” Acosta continued. “I’m not in on the act; we’re not a part of some reality TV show contrived melodrama that he’s trying to put out there to prop up his political prospects.”
Acosta may be the only person who believes that he is not acting when he flares up confrontations during press briefings, as even the left-leaning publication The Atlantic wrote a piece last year titled: “Jim Acosta’s Dangerous Brand of Performance Journalism.”
“Whenever a reporter who has not been kidnapped by terrorists, shot by an assailant, or won a big prize becomes an actor in her own story, she has lost the fight,” The Atlantic’s Todd Purdum wrote. “Or in this case, reinforced the corrosive, cynical, and deeply dangerous feedback loop that has convinced Trump’s most fervent supporters that his relentless brief against the press has merit: FAKE NEWS! SAD!”
The piece even noted one of Acosta’s performances in which he “interrupted [White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders] repeatedly … then cut off his colleagues to demand a follow-up,” adding that “Acosta’s confrontation – so florid, so vivid – also plays directly into Trump’s received narrative about a hostile, combative, and even unfair press.”
Partial transcript from Acosta’s interview:
I think Barack Obama had a healthy respect for the job of the White House press corps, of the press here in the United States, and I hate to say it, I take no joy in saying this, but I don’t think the same could be said of our current president, Donald Trump.
As we saw during the campaign, this was long before he called us “fake news” and the “enemy of the people,” then-candidate Trump referred to the press as the dishonest news media, the disgusting news media, liars, scum, and so on. And then he rolled that act into the Oval Office – started off by calling us “fake news,” called me “fake news” at that infamous press conference in January 2017, and then “the enemy of the people.”
What started off as kind of an act or a schtick from his reality TV days has gotten out of control, and the rhetoric has gotten to a point where some of the hostility is absorbed by his supporters – not all of [his] supporters, some of his supporters – and then directed back at us in ways that make us feel threatened.
I think that is what has been picked up on here in the United States and around the world, that this is a very difficult and somewhat dangerous time for the press in covering this administration because this is really nothing like we’ve ever seen before.
This happened after the February 2017 press conference, the president called me “very fake news,” and after the press conference was over, I got a call from one of his top aides, Hope Hicks, and she said to me on the phone “Jim, I just want you to know the president thought you were very professional today, and said ‘Jim gets it,’” and I thought to myself, “Wait a minute, the president just referred to me as very fake news five minutes ago and now he’s saying I’m professional and I get it? I don’t know what’s going on here, am I in the twilight zone?”
I talked to a number of his aides and they basically explained, “Jim, this is an act; he doesn’t really mean it” and so on. You know, there are lots of ways to parse this. First, you know, I’m not in on the act; we’re not a part of some reality TV show contrived melodrama that he’s trying to put out there to prop up his political prospects. We’re here to do the news; we’re here to report on his administration. The second thing is, and I write about this a great deal in my book, and I think it’s something that people need to think deeply about, not everybody is in on the act.