White House advisor Kellyanne Conway delivered a furious diatribe to CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta after he questioned if President Donald Trump would tell the truth in his first Oval Office address tonight.
The exchange got particularly heated when Acosta reminded Conway of her use of the term “alternative facts”—a gaffe that went viral in the days following Trump’s inauguration and grew to characterize the administration’s tactics throughout the ensuing term.
Watch the exchange with Acosta below:
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “Kellyanne, can you promise the president will tell the truth tonight?”
Conway: “Yes, Jim. Do you promise that you will? … this is why I am one of the only people around here who even gives you the time of day…because you’re such a smartass most of the time” pic.twitter.com/8fZ1iycl9R
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 8, 2019
Conway said to Acosta:
“Let me get back in your face because you’re such a smart ass most of the time and I know you want this to go viral, a lot of these people don’t like you. But just let me be respectful to the media at large as I always am, I explained that was alternative information and additional facts and I explained it many times. And don’t you put it back it my face for all the corrections that your network needs to issue. I was on your network 25 or 26 times in 2018 and I’m one of the last people here that even bothers to go on.”
The rebuke was intense even for Conway, whose tactics for defending the President have often been considered harmful.
Though Conway insisted that Trump would tell the truth, she didn’t answer Acosta’s second question: Would the address pass a fact check?
Yamiche Alcindor of PBS pointed this out:
Kellyanne Conway called Jim Acosta "a smart ass" for asking if Pres Trump will tell the truth tonight. But, she did not answer the question which many people are wondering.
It's important to note that Trump has regularly used misleading information in reference to the wall.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 8, 2019
Twitter had a lot to say on the matter.
So much for being respectful at the White House. Or is the respect only supposed to flow one way?
— ColoradoMom2 (@kaitynjojomom) January 8, 2019
They're beginning to resent being questioned by reporters.
— R. S. S. (@_R_S_S_) January 8, 2019
Pretty funny – I would take that as a compliment ….from the den of Hugo Chavez del Trump enablers
— Fairness (@AmericanLife777) January 8, 2019
It’s better than being a dumbass, Kellyanne. @KellyannePolls 🤷🏻♀️
— politimom (@DawnCuny) January 8, 2019
This isn’t the first time Acosta has found himself the target of anger from White House officials.
The CNN reporter has long been a thorn in the side of the Trump administration. Through Trump’s rhetoric, he quickly became emblematic of the network most reviled by Trump’s supporters until he became subject to aggression while covering the President’s rallies.
White nonsense. Pure and simple.
This video of people screaming at @Acosta at a Trump rally is everything that's wrong with Trump supporters. They are being manipulated by a Russian asset and they don't even know it or they don't care.#WednesdayWisdom pic.twitter.com/XIx5Wtqs18
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) August 1, 2018
He was also personally rebuked by the President himself for being a “rude, terrible person” after he persisted in asking a question.
“You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump told CNN’s Jim Acosta during a press conference in which he repeatedly clashed with reporters. pic.twitter.com/OvWCcFap5g
— POLITICO (@politico) November 7, 2018
After the exchange, the White House accused Acosta of physically assaulting the White House intern who attempted to take his microphone. They used an edited video to bolster their claims and revoked his White House credentials—a move they were forced to undo by court order.
Trump also refused to take his question in a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, dismissing CNN as “fake news.”
President @realDonaldTrump refused to take questions from CNN's Jim @Acosta at today's news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May: "CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox. Let's go to a real network." pic.twitter.com/D8wEttbONQ
— Djan Erik (@djanerik) July 13, 2018
It’s easy to see why Conway felt comfortable enough to berate him so strongly.