When CNN’s Jim Acosta tells the story of his father immigrating to the United States in 1962, he describes an experience of “warmth and compassion.”
Now, though, he says that’s no longer the case for many and pointed to the “send her back” chants from crowds at a rally for U.S. President Donald Trump last week, in which he ripped into four Democratic congresswomen of colour — something he says is only a symptom of the much bigger changes gripping the nation.
“There are lots of immigrants across this country who are living in fear, and to me, that’s just an un-American type of experience and one that we in the press have to really take a cold, hard look at,” he said in an interview with the West Block’s Eric Sorenson.
“I think it’s undoubtedly the case that to some extent America is changing, if you have political rallies where that sort of thing is going on.”
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Trump has been on the attack against Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan since he tweeted last weekend that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All four are U.S. citizens and, with the exception of Omar, were born in the country.
She and her family fled from Somalia when she was young.
Acosta, who has frequently been the subject of attacks from the White House over his questioning of Trump, released a book last month about the dangers journalists face in trying to tell the public the truth as the Trump administration accuses them of being the “enemy of the people.”
He said the language used by the Trump administration reflects much larger stakes for the American people — specifically, the country’s commitment to free discourse and a free press.
“As we’ve seen at rally after rally, the president’s rhetoric and hostility to the media has been absorbed by his supporters and directed back at us in ways that make us feel threatened,” he said.
“The thing that I’m concerned about, Eric, is we’re going to have a situation in this country where a reporter is hurt or God forbid killed, and at that point, the United States of America’s right in the book, joins a different category of countries around the world where the press is not safe covering the leader of the free world and we just can’t have a situation like that in this country.”
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He continued, noting he thinks the president is taking advantage of those who are placing their trust in him.
“There are people who are emotionally invested in Donald Trump and he is exploiting that right now, no question about it.”
But when asked about what comes next, he said the 2020 election is the major question in how much further the country will go down its current path.
“What I tell people is please don’t lose faith in the United States of America. The United States is more than one elected leader and we’re going to have an election in 2020 and we’re going to find out exactly where American turns after that,” he said.
“To some extent, yes, America is changing. But as Winston Churchill used to say, the United States typically does the right thing after exhausting all other options.”
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