Here is the question that pushed the president over the edge: “Do you think that you demonized immigrants in this election?” When CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Donald Trump this question in a press conference the day after the midterm elections, the president bristled. Acosta pressed on. Trump told him “That’s enough” eight times, then instructed him to put down the mic, and a White House intern tried to pull the microphone out of Acosta’s hands.
Over the course of Trump’s presidency so far, the insult and vitriol that started as a theatrical rivalry—kayfabe, as professional wrestling calls it—has quickly morphed into a much more sinister and dangerous conflict. “Fake news” escalated into “enemy of the people.” And a prolonged period of sparring with CNN generally and Acosta specifically culminated in the White House retaliating against him for asking the president questions Trump didn’t like in a press conference.
This was the first time Trump used his authority to try to revoke press credentials, though denying reporters access to the White House is not new; The Nation’s Robert Sherrill failed to get Secret Service clearance for a pass during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency. (In this case, the courts restored Acosta’s pass on the grounds that his right to due process had been violated, after which the White House said it wouldn’t pursue the ban.)