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Jim Acosta Discusses Impeachment, Media Climate at IOP Talk

CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart (left) and CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta (right) discussed media and journalism in the age of Trump at the IOP Tuesday evening.
CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart (left) and CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta (right) discussed media and journalism in the age of Trump at the IOP Tuesday evening. By Kai R. McNamee
By Ruoqi Zhang, Crimson Staff Writer

Jim Acosta – CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent – discussed the United States House of Representatives impeachment inquiry and the contemporary media environment Tuesday evening at the Institute of Politics.

IOP Resident Fellow Alice Stewart, a CNN Political Commentator, moderated the conversation. She initiated the discussion with a question about the future of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, which was first announced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi last week. The announcement came after the Washington Post reported that a whistleblower was concerned about Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Acosta said whistleblower complained “merits serious consideration” and that the current House inquiry is a serious historical moment for the United States, posing significant difficulties to the Trump administration.

“He’s up against some very difficult circumstances at the moment,” Acosta said, citing widening popular support for removing Trump from office. “Back in May, only 41 percent of Americans are in favor of impeaching and removing the president the office. We had a poll out on CNN last night that said that it had shifted to 47 percent.”

Acosta continued the coversation, recounting his career as a political correspondent and presented his view of the current American political atmosphere. He said Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric on media is dangerous due to the enormous media influence he wields.

“After he finishes calling the press ‘the enemy of the people,’ which segment of American society comes after that,” Acosta asked. “Is it academia? Law enforcement?”

“There are limits to what a society can withstand in terms of absorbing the rhetoric,” he added.

Trump’s rhetoric also often distracts from his policy agenda, Acosta said.

Acosta specifically referred to controversial comments Trump made in a press conference after an August 2017 white supremicist rally in Charlottesville, Va. In the press conference, Trump said that there were “very fine people on both sides” in reference to counter-protestors and white supremacists. His comment — which sparked public backlash — led to back and forth between the press and Trump on the remark in a press conference originally planned to outline the administration’s infrastructure policy, according to Acosta.

“At times, he is his own worst enemy. He steps on his message all the time,” Acosta said.

Chase J. Souder ’23, who attended the talk, said Acosta’s account of how the term “fake news” impacted CNN reporters “on a day to day basis” was a memorable moment for him.

“It’s definitely interesting just to hear from his perspective,” Souder said.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.

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