President Donald J. Trump on Friday called White House correspondent and CNN political analyst April Ryan a “loser” and “nasty,” and hinted that he is considering revoking press credentials of journalists.
The comments came after Trump had heated exchanges with Ryan, CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta and Yamiche Alcindor of PBS NewsHour on Wednesday. The president also came under fire for a disparaging comment about CNN’s Abby Phillip Friday morning.
Ryan, a Baltimore native, attempted to ask Trump a question about voter suppression at a news conference. Trump repeatedly told Ryan to sit down, adding that the media was hostile. He refused to respond to her question.
“I mean, you talk about somebody that’s a loser. She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing,” Trump said of Ryan on Friday. “She gets publicity, and then she gets a pay raise. ... She’s very nasty, and she shouldn’t be. You’ve gotta treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.”
Ryan, who has worked as the White House bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks for more than 20 years, said in an emailed statement to The Baltimore Sun that she is “numb.”
“It has been going on for two [years],” Ryan wrote. “But I am okay and continue my job with the support of both CNN and American Urban Radio Networks.”
Ryan also tweeted her love for the country and her respect for the office of the president Friday morning.
“I will continue to ask the questions that affect America, all of America,” she wrote.
Acosta, who also had a testy exchange with Trump during the same news conference, came to Ryan’s defense on Twitter.
“My friend @AprilDRyan is an incredible journalist and a wonderful person,” Acosta stated. “If you got to know April as I know her, you would love her too. #1A”
Trump also complained about Acosta, whose press credentials were revoked after the journalist challenged him on his past comments about immigrants and attempted to ask him a question about the Russian investigation Wednesday. After Trump called the Russian investigation a “hoax,” a White House aide attempted to wrestle the microphone out of Acosta’s hand.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said. “You are a rude, terrible person.”
Acosta later tweeted that his press credentials to the White House had been revoked. Trump followed up Friday, calling Acosta unprofessional and stated that he hadn’t decided whether Acosta’s suspension would be permanent, but forewarned that “it could be others” who get suspended.
The National Association of Black Journalists called for the “immediate reinstatement” of Acosta’s press credentials in a recent release. The organization also released a statement Friday denouncing Trump’s treatment of journalists, especially female journalists of color.
The statement referenced Trump’s comment about Phillip, who he said “asks a lot of stupid questions,” and his response to Alcindor. Trump said Alcindor’s question about whether he was encouraging white nationalists was racist.
"The most powerful man in the free world is verbally abusing journalists," said NABJ President Sarah Glover in a written statement. "The past two years have been filled with assaults on the media and Donald Trump's comments this week have reached an all-time low with attacks on three black female journalists. His dismissive comments toward journalists April Ryan, Abby Phillip and Yamiche Alcindor are appalling, irresponsible, and should be denounced."
The organization, who named Ryan the Journalist of the Year in 2017 and Alcindor the Emerging Journalist of the Year in 2013, also demanded “an end to hostilities against the journalism community and to the continuous string of untruths and misinformation that have become staples of the Trump administration's dialogue with the press. Trump's dismissive personal and demeaning attacks on the press are a disgrace to the presidency. The suspension of Acosta's credentials because the president did not like the line of questioning reeks of government behavior in countries that do not support freedom of the press.”
NABJ Executive Director Drew Berry wrote in a statement that it’s acceptable to have opinions based on fact, “but when those differences are blatant lies or attacks, you cross the line.”
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“A journalist's job is to hold the powerful accountable through relevant questions about intent and actions,” he stated. “The expectation is for honest answers."