Jim Acosta

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Jim Acosta
Jim Acosta (24877620009) crop.jpg
Acosta in February 2016
Abilio James Acosta

(1971-04-17) April 17, 1971 (age 52)
EducationAnnandale High School
Alma materJames Madison University (BA)
OccupationNews anchor
Known forChief Domestic Affairs Correspondent & Anchor for CNN
SpouseSharon Mobley Stow (m. 1999; div. 2017)
WebsiteCNN.com biography
Jim Acosta signature (cropped).jpg

Abilio James Acosta (born April 17, 1971)[1][2] is an American broadcast journalist, anchor and the chief domestic correspondent for CNN. Previously, Acosta served as the network's chief White House correspondent during the Trump administration, in which he gained national attention for President Donald Trump's clashes with him at press briefings. Acosta also covered the Obama administration as CNN's senior White House correspondent. As Trump was about to leave office, it was announced on January 11, 2021 that Acosta had been appointed Anchor and Chief Domestic Correspondent for CNN.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Acosta's father arrived in the U.S. at age 11 as a refugee from Santa María del Rosario,[4] Cuba three weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis and was raised in Virginia.[5] His mother is of Irish and Czech ancestry, and his father's ancestors had originally come to Cuba from the Canary Islands.[6][7] Acosta, also raised in Northern Virginia, graduated from Annandale High School in 1989. In 1993, he earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, with a minor in political science, from James Madison University.[8][9] While in school, Acosta volunteered for WXJM, the student-run radio station.[10] He also worked as a reporter at WSVA, a local radio station, which is owned and operated by Saga Communications.

Media career[edit]

CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta meets an audience member after the 2018 William Randolph Hearst Award Presentation

Acosta began his professional career in radio, and his first job was with WMAL in Washington, D.C. In 1994, Acosta left WMAL and entered television, working for Fox affiliate WTTG-TV as a desk assistant. In 1995, Acosta moved in front of the camera, becoming a reporter and substitute anchor at NBC affiliate WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, and remained in that job until 1998.

From 1998 until 2000, Acosta worked as a reporter for CBS affiliate KTVT-TV in Dallas. From 2000 until 2001, Acosta was a reporter for WBBM-TV in Chicago. From 2001 until 2003, Acosta worked as a correspondent for CBS News' Newspath service, based both in Dallas and Chicago. From February 2003 until March 2007, Acosta was a correspondent for CBS News and was based first in New York and then in Atlanta.[8]

At CBS News, Acosta covered the 2004 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, the Iraq War from Baghdad, and Hurricane Katrina. In April 2007, Acosta joined CNN.[8][9] During the following year, Acosta covered the 2008 presidential campaigns of Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, frequently appearing as an anchor of CNN's weekend political program, Ballot Bowl. Acosta later joined CNN's American Morning program as a correspondent and contributed to the network's coverage of the 2010 midterm elections.

In February 2012, CNN promoted Acosta to the position of national political correspondent.[11] In his role as national political correspondent, Acosta was the network's lead correspondent in covering the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. He was then the senior White House correspondent for CNN.[12] At a nationally televised news conference in November 2015, Acosta challenged President Obama on his administration's strategy for destroying the terrorist organization known as ISIS. "Why can't we take out these bastards," Acosta asked.[13]

Acosta traveled to Cuba in March 2016 to cover President Obama's historic trip to the island. At a rare news conference in Havana featuring both Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro, Acosta pressed the Cuban leader on his country's human rights record.[14]

Acosta was promoted to chief White House correspondent on January 9, 2018.[15]

In January 2021, CNN announced that Acosta would move to chief domestic correspondent and weekend anchor. The moves aligned with the incoming Biden administration.[16]

President Trump press conferences[edit]

Acosta speaks about his experiences at Trump press conferences and rallies at San Jose State University in October 2018.

At a nationally televised news conference in May 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called Acosta "a real beauty" for his reporting.[17] Interrupting Acosta, who asked Trump about his ability to deal with scrutiny, Trump said: "Excuse me, excuse me, I've watched you on TV. You're a real beauty."[18]

During President-elect Trump's first press conference on January 11, 2017, Acosta attempted to ask a question to the President-elect regarding Russia. Trump, however, instead called on other reporters, denouncing Acosta and CNN as "fake news".[19]

Acosta got into a heated debate[20] at a White House press conference on August 2, 2017, arguing with White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller over the Trump administration's support for the RAISE Act.[21] Politico said this interchange "cemented Acosta's undisputed role as the chief antagonist" for CNN against the Trump administration.[22]

On August 2, 2018, shortly after Kaitlan Collins was banned from the official press conference by the White House[23] and a statement of President Trump that "FAKE NEWS media... is the enemy of the American People",[24][25][26] Acosta asked the press secretary of the White House Sarah Huckabee Sanders if she distances herself from that statement. She did not decline nor support that statement and argued over her own treatment by the media. Acosta was praised by many liberals and panned by many conservatives. This came in a wider context of critics by multiple entities (critic came by the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR) for attacks by President Trump on the free press.[27]

Access temporarily barred[edit]

November 7, 2018 - Complete press conference. Video from the White House
External video
video icon November 7, 2018 exchange between Trump and Acosta, from TIME magazine

Acosta verbally sparred with President Trump during a White House press conference on November 7, 2018, following the 2018 midterm elections. Trump said "You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn't be working for CNN" after Acosta asked him a question about Trump's rhetoric regarding immigration and Trump's television advertisements which have been described as racist, and refused to give up the mic after his question was rebuffed.[28][additional citation(s) needed] According to the Press Secretary Sanders, Acosta put "his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern." Video of the incident showed Acosta had lowered his free arm to shield the roving microphone from being taken by the intern, saying, "Pardon me, ma'am," as he brushed her arm.[29][30] Subsequently, Acosta's press pass, US Secret Service security credentials facilitating entry onto the White House grounds, was suspended "until further notice."[31][32]

A CNN statement described Acosta's suspension as, "retaliation for his challenging questions". Sanders was accused of lying and of providing "fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened."[33]

The following day, the White House circulated a video which CNN said was doctored. The White House video matched a video posted by conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson of the far-right website InfoWars, which had been subtly edited to portray the contact as approaching a physical blow.[34][35][36][37] Social media intelligence agency Storyful said that, within the two-second long snippet of video that is repeated within the 15-seconds long overall clip, three frames are paused a fraction of a second,[38] resulting in a slight time compression elsewhere than this highlighted footage showing brief contact of the intern's arm with Acosta's.[39] Watson said he did not alter the clip, obtained from a GIF posted at The Daily Wire and that he republished as a compressed MP4 file after adding a zoomed-in replay.[35][40]

In the days following the suspension, as CNN made behind-the-scenes efforts to restore Acosta's access[41] and prepared a possible lawsuit toward this end as well,[42][43] network news pieces quoted opinions of media law professor Jonathan Peters that "a journalist has a first amendment right of access to places closed to the public but open generally to the press [...which] can't be denied arbitrarily or absent compelling reasons"[41] and of well-known free speech litigator Floyd Abrams, who said, "CNN might have reluctance to have a lawsuit titled 'CNN vs. Donald Trump.' That said, yes, I think they should sue."[44]

Trump said Acosta's action as depicted "wasn't overly horrible".[45] Concerning the clip, Trump said, "They gave a close-up view. That's not doctoring."[46][47][48][49] Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway described the clip as not altered but sped up, taking exception to what she believed the "overwrought description of this video as being doctored as if we put somebody else's arm in there."[50]


On November 13, 2018, CNN and Acosta, through counsel Ted Boutrous and Ted Olson of Gibson Dunn, filed civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff/director of Communications Bill Shine, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the U.S. Secret Service and its director, Randolph Alles, and an unnamed Secret Service agent, all in their official capacities. The filing also requested relief by way of an order temporarily restraining the White House from denying access to Acosta for journalistic purposes.[51][52][53]

Amicus briefs were filed with the court in support of CNN's case, from journalistic entities whose editorial policies range across the political spectrum.[54][55] The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief arguing that First Amendment free speech rights do not "restrict the president's ability to determine the terms on which he does, or does not, engage with particular journalists."[56]

The case was heard by Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee to the District Court for the District of Columbia, who, on November 16, ordered Acosta's credentials restored for 14 days, owing to the court's belief that Acosta's due process rights likely had been violated, with the court's making no reference of the suit's arguments thus far concerning the First Amendment.[57][58]

CNN eventually dropped the lawsuit on November 19 after the White House restored Acosta's press credentials with conditions.


  • Acosta, Jim (2019). The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America. New York: Harper. ISBN 9780062916129. OCLC 1102648075.


  1. ^ "@Acosta" on Twitter
  2. ^ Steinberg, Brian (June 11, 2019). "CNN's Jim Acosta Has a New Story to Tell: His Own". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  3. ^ Mastrangelo, Dominick (January 11, 2021). "CNN's Acosta moving away from White House". The Hill. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  4. ^ "Finding Your Roots | Anchormen | Season 9 | Episode 9 | PBS". PBS.
  5. ^ Acosta, Jim (March 20, 2016). "A reporter's personal journey to Cuba". CNN. Retrieved December 29, 2020. We were on our way to the town where my father grew up, the town he fled in 1962, three weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis. ... Only 11 years old, my father was issued a Cuban passport for a one-way trip to a country that would become his sanctuary.
  6. ^ Acosta, Jim (May 11, 2018). "This is my mom. Her parents were of Irish and Czech descent and 'assimilated' quite well. They are buried at Arlington National Cemetery". Twitter.
  7. ^ "Finding Your Roots | Anchormen | Season 9 | Episode 9 | PBS". PBS.
  8. ^ a b c "Anchors/Reporters - Jim Acosta". CNN. Retrieved April 19, 2017. Acosta graduated cum laude from James Madison University with a bachelor's degree in mass communications and a minor in political science.
  9. ^ a b Taylor, Liz Cerami (March 2017). "Assignment America: CBS News' Jim Acosta ('93) joins Dan Rather on the set for blackout story". MONTY. No. 65. James Madison University. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Koepper, Aaron (April 7, 2012). "An Unanchored life". Curio: The Shenandoah Valley Magazine. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. His chance to distinguish himself came at JMU, when Acosta joined JMU's student-run radio station, WXJM, in 1990. He helped start the news department of the station, and held the title of news director by 1993.
  11. ^ "CNN Promotes Jim Acosta to National Political Correspondent". CNN (Press release). February 6, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  12. ^ Weprin, Alex (August 20, 2013). "CNN Ups Keilar, Acosta and Marsh, Shifts Yellin from White House to domestic Affairs". Adweek.
  13. ^ Griswold, Alex (November 16, 2015). "CNN's Jim Acosta Grills Obama on ISIS: 'Why Can't We Take Out These Bastards?'". Mediaite. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  14. ^ DeYoung, Karen; Eilperin, Juliet (March 21, 2016). "Raúl Castro, Obama spar on human rights, Guantanamo, views of U.S. and Cuba". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
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  16. ^ Brian Stelter (January 11, 2021). "CNN announces promotions for Jake Tapper, Abby Phillip, Dana Bash and others". CNN. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
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  19. ^ Sutton, Kelsey (January 11, 2017). "Trump calls CNN 'fake news,' as channel defends its reporting on intelligence briefing". Politico. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "Jim Acosta vs Stephen Miller - Immigration - White House Press Briefing 8/2/17". YouTube. August 2, 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  21. ^ Swenson, Kyle (August 3, 2017). "Acosta vs. Miller: A lurking ideological conflict about the Statue of Liberty". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Strauss, Ben (September 21, 2017). "Jim Acosta Is the White House's Favorite Reporter". Politico. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  23. ^ "Kaitlan Collins: Row over CNN reporter's White House ban". BBC News. July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  24. ^ @realDonaldTrump (February 17, 2017). "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ Cummings, William (February 19, 2017). "Trump declares 'fake news' media 'the enemy of the American people'". USA Today.
  26. ^ Rogers, Katie (August 2, 2018). "Are Journalists the Enemy of the People? Ivanka Trump Says They're Not". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  27. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (August 2, 2018). "CNN's Jim Acosta Challenges Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Then Makes a Quick Exit". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  28. ^ Schwartz, Jason (November 7, 2018). "Trump shifts spotlight from midterms, escalating attacks on media". Politico. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  29. ^ "White House Suspends Press Pass CNN's Jim Acosta after Testy Exchange with Trump". The Washington Post. November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  30. ^ Abbruzzese, Jason; Romero, Dennis (November 8, 2018). "CNN journalist Jim Acosta banned from White House after Trump calls him 'rude, terrible person'". NBC News. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  31. ^ Boggs, Justin (November 7, 2018). "CNN reporter Jim Acosta has credential revoked after asking Trump tough questions". WXYZ-TV. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  32. ^ Darrah, Nicole (November 7, 2018). "CNN's Jim Acosta has press pass suspended by White House, Sarah Sanders announces". Fox News. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  33. ^ "White House suspends credentials for CNN's Jim Acosta". BBC News. November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  34. ^ "White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta". The Washington Post.
  35. ^ a b Aratani, Laura (November 8, 2018). "Altered Video of CNN Reporter Jim Acosta Heralds A Future Filled With 'Deep Fakes'". Forbes. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  36. ^ Melendez, Pilar (November 8, 2018). "Kellyanne Conway, Fox News Bash Acosta for 'Swiping Away' White House Intern". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  37. ^ Edelman, Adam (November 8, 2018). "CNN accuses White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders of sharing 'doctored' video of Jim Acosta". NBC News. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  38. ^ "Acosta Video Posted by White House Was Altered, Analysis Says". The Wall Street Journal. November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  39. ^ "Acosta and the Intern: A Media Double Standard? - RealClearPolitics".
  40. ^ Ismail, Aymann (November 8, 2018). "The White House's Acosta Video Looks Different From the Original. Does That Mean It's 'Doctored'?". Slate. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  41. ^ a b "Questions about the White House's action against Jim Acosta answered". CNN. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  42. ^ Wattles, Jackie (November 11, 2018). "Lawyer: CNN should sue the White House over Acosta access". ABC News. Archived from the original on November 12, 2018. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  43. ^ Anapol, Avery (November 11, 2018). "Former White House correspondent says CNN is suing over Acosta press credentials". The Hill.
  44. ^ Wattles, Jackie (November 11, 2018). "Famed First Amendment lawyer says CNN should sue the White House over Acosta access". CNN.
  45. ^ Boyer, Dave (November 9, 2018). "Donald Trump calls CNN's Jim Acosta 'very unprofessional'". The Washington Post. AP News. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  46. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (November 9, 2018). "Donald Trump Trash Talks Michelle Obama, Jim Acosta, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Claims Not To Know Acting AG Whitaker". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  47. ^ "Trump Attacks Journalists, Claims 'No One Manipulated' Jim Acosta Video". Huffington Post. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
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  49. ^ "Trump draws rebukes for scolding female reporters of color". Politico. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  50. ^ Keller, Megan (November 11, 2018). "Conway on video of Acosta-aide interaction: 'That's not altered, that's sped up'".
  51. ^ "Gibson Dunn Backs CNN, Acosta in White House Press Pass Lawsuit - National Law Journal". Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  52. ^ Rosenblatt, Kalhan (November 13, 2018). "CNN files lawsuit against Trump administration over Jim Acosta's press credentials". NBC News. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  53. ^ Lejeune, Tristan (November 13, 2018). "CNN anchor: Trump lawsuit 'not about politics'". TheHill. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  54. ^ Flint, Joe. "CNN Sues Trump Administration Over Jim Acosta Press Credentials". Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  55. ^ Nover, Scott (November 13, 2018). "The Looming Legal Battle Over Jim Acosta's Press Pass". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
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External links[edit]