The exchanges went beyond Trump’s typical clashes with the press, as at times he appeared more angry and irrupted at the media. During a clash with Acosta, NBC News’ Peter Alexander defended his colleague, and Trump then attacked Alexander.
As Acosta asked about Trump’s claim that a caravan of migrants posed a threat to the country, but then persisted in trying to ask another about the Russia investigation.
“That’s enough,” Trump said, several times, as he called on Alexander. A White House staffer attempted to grab the microphone from Acosta, but he persisted.
“Are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation?” Acosta asked.
Trump, visibly angry, then walked away from the lectern and then looked at Acosta and said, “I’ll tell you what. CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
“You are a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible, and the way that you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way,” Trump said.
Then, when Alexander was called upon, he said, “In Jim’s defense, I’ve traveled with him and watched him. He’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.”
“Well, I am not a big fan of yours either,” to be honest,” Trump said.
Acosta then spoke up, referring to Trump’s reference to the “fake news media” as the “enemy of the people,” and the pipe bombs that were sent to CNN.
“When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
Trump then again paced back and forth at the lectern.
CNN later responded to Trump’s exchange.
“This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” the networks said. “While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it. A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”
During the press conference, he also admonished other reporters for interrupting.
“It’s such a hostile media. It’s very sad,” he said.
There were other moments of sparring with other reporters as well.
PBS Newshour’s Yamiche Alcindor asked about Trump’s reference to himself as a “nationalist.”
“Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists.” she said.
“I don’t know why you would say that. Such a racist question,” Trump responded.
In the press conference, Trump characterized the midterms results a victory, given the Republicans expanded Senate majority even though the party looks to have lost between 30 and 35 House seats.
Trump also pointed to the victory of Republicans in Florida and Georgia. He noted that Oprah Winfrey campaigned in Georgia for Stacey Abrams, but “she didn’t do the trick.” He also noted that Democrats had “celebrities all over the place” in Florida but lost races. Andrew Gillum was defeated by Republican Ron DeSantis to become the state’s governor, and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is trailing Republican Rick Scott in his bid for reelection.