White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly ignored CNN’s Jim Acosta during the White House press briefing on Monday, despite repeated attempts by the veteran White House correspondent to ask questions.
Spicer began the press briefing announcing that he would allow still cameras.
Several camera shutters clicked, prompting him to joke about “putting sketch artists out of business now,” after CNN hired a sketch artist last week to outline an off-camera breifing.
Acosta interrupted the press briefing, asking Spicer why he refused to turn on the cameras during the briefing.
“There’s no camera on, Jim,” Spicer replied.
“Maybe we should turn the cameras on. Sean, why don’t we turn the cameras on, why don’t we turn the cameras on?”
“I’m sorry that you have to do this,” Spicer said, as Acosta repeatedly asked why the cameras were off earlier in the briefing.
“Why not turn the cameras on Sean? They’re in the room, the lights are on,” Acosta continued.
Spicer did not call on Acosta during the entire briefing, but he interrupted during other questions with reporters. After the press secretary called on One America News reporter Trey Yingst, Acosta interrupted again to ask Spicer repeatedly about the cameras.
“Why are the cameras off Sean? Why did you turn them off, can you just give us an answer to that? Can you tell us why you turned the cameras off? Why are they off Sean? It’s a legitimate question. If you are a taxpayer funded spokesman for the United States government, can you at least give us an explanation as to why the cameras are off?” he asked.
“Can we get this out of the way?” Yingst asked after Acosta brought up the subject again.
“Yeah, some days we’ll have them and some days we won’t,” Spicer replied, pointing out that President Donald Trump was speaking on camera later in the day with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Look, this is nothing inconsistent with what we’ve said from day one,” he added, defending his position.
Later, Acosta went on CNN to report his treatment in the press briefing, noting that Spicer refused to take a question from him.
“It sounds like Sean Spicer ignored your questions,” the anchor said, pointing out the “heated exchanges” with Spicer.
“Sean Spicer has refused to take questions from CNN for weeks now,” Acosta said, although he clarified that “he may have taken a question here or there, over the last couple of weeks.”
“We’ve largely been just blackballed during these briefings,” he asserted. “We’re just not getting questions to the White House press secretary … that would not have happened in previous administrations.”
Spicer said Acosta’s assertion that CNN had been “blackballed” was “truly fake news,” telling the Washington Post that he had called on CNN’s Athena Jones last week, and spoke with CNN reporter Joe Johns on Monday morning.
Later in the afternoon, Acosta joined reporters in the Rose Garden for a joint statement with President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But when he looked for his seat, his placard that had been placed in the White House front row of the press section earlier in the afternoon appeared to be missing and some of CNN’s equipment had been moved.
Acosta spoke with White House press aides, returned with a CNN placard, and sat in a seat in the front row that was left empty.
After President Trump and Prime Minister Modi finished speaking, Acosta shouted questions at the president about the health care bill, but Trump ignored him.
“Thank you,” Trump responded shortly before leaving the podium.