CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta gave some advice to his "friends in conservative media" while promoting his new book, 'The Enemy of the People' in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper.
"What I wanted to do is sort of take the big-picture view on this and say, is this the kind of country we want to hand off to the next generation, where we're now comfortable from here on out saying that the press is the enemy of the people," Acosta explained his book.
"To our friends in conservative media, Anderson, I say this, it is no guarantee that you get to stay in power forever," Acosta said. "And so, another administration could come in and do the very same thing to them and say, well, Donald Trump did it. Guess what, we're going to do it to you guys, too."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So, it's not exactly a secret that CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta has had a contentious relationship with the Trump White House, which is part of the job, but not always to this degree.
It wasn't all that long ago that the White House pulled his press credentials, you may remember, after President Trump called him "terrible." CNN successfully sued the administration. Jim's access was restored.
Now, Jim's written a book, it is out tomorrow. It's called "The Enemy of the People," referring to a phrase the President has used to characterize all of the press. Jim is with me now.
Did you -- when you started being a White House correspondent, I mean, did you ever expect to be in such a battle with an administration? I mean, obviously, it's always an antagonistic relationship in some ways.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, no. And I mean, I never anticipated this. I mean, we saw some of this during the campaign, right? Remember, Anderson, when he referred to us as the disgusting news media, the dishonest news media and so on, and then that rolled right into the administration.
And there were some pundits out there who thought, well, maybe the weight of the presidency will calm, the President down and he'll go back to being a more traditional president.
COOPER: And he talked about changing his tones or something during the campaign.
ACOSTA: Yes, and it never really happened. But, then he called us fake news and more recently the enemy of the people. And what I wanted to say with this book, Anderson, is I've got kids and I don't want my kids growing up in a country where the press is called the enemy of the people. Not just you and I, but all of the people who are working in this room right now, all the folks who go to these campaign events. And what's happening, Anderson, is a lot of the President's supporters, not all of them, many of them are wonderful people. I have a great time with them when I'm out on the campaign trail, but some of them absorb this hostility and then lash out at us in ways that make us feel endangered.
And I'm worried that we're going to have a day where a journalist is going to get hurt or possibly killed, and at that point, you know, we've crossed the line. This country has become a part of a group of nations around the world where the press is not safe to do its job. And the question that I want to ask folks with this book is, is that the road we want to go down as a country?
COOPER: It's interesting because, I mean, I've never had more people come up to me and just say, you know, keep doing what you're doing. And they're not talking to me particularly, they're saying as a representative of the media and I'm sure you find the same thing.
COOPER: But I've seen you at Trump rallies with people who were yelling at you at one moment and then asking you to take pictures with you the next.
ACOSTA: Right. There's a little bit of that. And I write in the book, it's a little bit between being the bad guy at a pro wrestling event and the actual enemy of the people. And we run into folks at these events who will come up to us and say, "Jim, I'm really sorry that that happened to you." And that whole spectrum is there. Then there are folks who come up to us and say, "Listen, I'm going to come after you out in the parking lot, you'd better get out of here," kind of thing.
And, you know, Anderson, we leave these rallies sometimes with security around us heading out to our cars and we're in a hurry getting back to our cars because we're concerned about our safety and security.
COOPER: You've been accused, as you are well aware, of making yourself part of the story, of you know, antagonizing them to get a sound bite, to have an exchange.
ACOSTA: Right, and I've heard that. And my response to that is, look, we've been thrust into sort of an unprecedented situation. The President of the United States, according to "The Washington Post," has made approximately 10,000 false or misleading statements since he's been President.
That has put us in the position of being fact-checkers in real time, and that frustrates the White House, frustrates his team, frustrates his supporters. But my goodness, Anderson, can you imagine if we spent the last two years never fact-checking him and letting all these statements fly? We took "Keeping Them Honest" off the screen on "AC360"? We can't do that.
COOPER: It's also a difficult thing to do is how much do you fact- check, because there are so many things you could in any given speech. Fact-check, you could do it all and you would spend all of your time just on the minutia and miss sort of bigger pictures or other issues. It's always a balance.
ACOSTA: I agree with that. And that was one of the challenges in writing this book, because you could go down all of these different rabbit holes and live down there for the rest of your life.
And what I wanted to do is sort of take the big-picture view on this and say, is this the kind of country we want to hand off to the next generation, where we're now comfortable from here on out saying that the press is the enemy of the people.
And to our friends in conservative media, Anderson, I say this, it is no guarantee that you get to stay in power forever. And so, another administration could come in and do the very same thing to them and say, well, Donald Trump did it. Guess what, we're going to do it to you guys, too.
COOPER: Right, two states of emergency executive, you know, ruling by executive power --
ACOSTA: That's right.
COOPER: -- when the shoe's on the other foot if they're going to like that.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, thank you very much. "Enemy of the People" out tomorrow.