Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, talked on Wednesday’s Late Show about having to “fact-check” President Trump.
The reporter detailed the history of Trump’s combative relationship with CNN, which began after Acosta asked the president during a January 11th, 2017 press conference about the explosive Steele Dossier – a line of questioning that the Republican dismissed as “fake news.”
“Ever since then, and this is what gets under their skin, we’ve had to be fact-checkers in real-time,” Acosta said. “We’ve had to try to tell the truth in real-time when the president says, ‘Barack Obama wiretapped me at Trump Tower.’ Not true. When he says, ‘Millions of undocumented people voted in the election, and that’s why I lost the popular vote.’ That’s not true. The foundation of his political career was built on a lie, that Barack Obama was not born in this country. Listen, these are tough times, and there are some tough questions to be asked. But I don’t think we do ourselves any good if we shy away from these hard questions.”
Acosta labeled Trump’s falsehoods “absolutely destructive,” adding that he and his fellow colleagues feel responsible to hold him in check with tough questions.
“It’s not just me; a lot of us do this – [we] push back on these falsehoods on a daily basis,” he said. “And this is why there are a lot of folks who support the president who are very upset with us right now because they take it in, and they see it as, ‘They’re just bashing the president all day long.’ Listen, are we supposed to do the news and not fact-check the president when he is obviously just telling whoppers, one after another?
“I was at the rally in Tampa the other night, and he said, ‘Not only is there fake news, there are fake polls!” he continued. “And in almost the same breath, he says, ‘And by the way, a poll just came out that said I’m the most popular Republican president of all-time!”
Acosta also discussed a recent White House press briefing in which he aggressively asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to denounce Trump’s labeling of journalists as “the enemy of the people” (a request she refused).
“She went through a litany of complaints that she had about the way she’s been treated,” he recalled. “She talked about the White House Correspondents Dinner where comedian Michelle Wolf made some unflattering comments about her. I said, ‘Hey, listen, I’m sorry you’ve been put through the meat grinder. We all get put through the meat grinder in this town. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be referring to journalists as the ‘enemy of the people.’ We’re not the enemy of the people.”