Jim Acosta, the CNN senior White House Correspondent who frequently clashes with the Trump Administration during press conferences, had another clash on August 2, this time with Trump advisor Stephen Miller.
During a heated exchange at the press briefing, Miller called the 46-year-old Acosta “ignorant” and “foolish” after Miller downplayed the importance of the famous Emma Lazarus poem written on the Statue of Liberty. Miller was at the press briefing to discuss new immigration legislation that will put limits on legal immigration. “Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” Acosta asked Miller.
“I have to honestly say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English,” Miller told Acosta. “It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree…This is an amazing moment.”
Miller then told Acosta that, “It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.” Before Miller left the podium, he said, “I apologize Jim if things got heated but you did make some pretty rough insinuations.”
Here’s what you need to know about Acosta’s life and career.
1. Acosta’s Father Is a Cuban Immigrant Who Came to the U.S. at Age 11
When Acosta traveled to Cuba to cover President Barack Obama’s historic trip there in 2016, Acosta wrote on CNN that this was a personal trip for himself. His father is a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. at age 11. While in Cuba in 2009 to do a story on Obama’s easing of travel restrictions, Acosta visited the town his father grew up in.
Acosta wrote that his father fled the town just before the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. His aunt, Anabel, had already left the country by then. She returned to Cuba to help Acosta’s father and his grandmother leave the country.
“Only 11 years old, my father was issued a Cuban passport for a one-way trip to a country that would become his sanctuary. That was the last he had seen of Santa Maria del Rosario, a small village outside of Havana,” Acosta wrote. “Flash forward to 2009: There I was in the same village, staring at the old Spanish colonial, Catholic church where my father was baptized.”
Acosta’s father warned his son before the 2009 trip that he might be thrown in jail. He went anyway and it was an incredible trip for him. He met cousins he didn’t know he had and he was taken to the house his father grew up in.
2. Acosta & His Wife Sharon Mobley Stow Were MArried for 24 Years Before a Recent Separation
On July 24, The New York Post reported that Acosta and his wife, Sharon Mobley Stow, recently separated. Stow, a registered nurse, and Acosta were married for 24 years and have two daughters and a son.
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The two started divorce proceedings earlier this year. A source told the Post that Acosta has been seen with “different women” at his Washington D.C. apartment.
You can follow Acosta on Twitter here.
3. Acosta Is a Graduate of James Madison University & Worked at CBS Before Joining CNN
Acosta, who was born Abilio James Acosta, was raised in Annandale, Virginia, where he graduated from high school. According to his CNN bio, Acostra has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a minor in political science from James Madison University.
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After graduation, her worked at TV and radio stations in Washington, Knoxville, Dallas and Chicago. From 2001 to 2003, he worked for CBS Newspath, a 24-hour news service based in Dallas and Chicago. In February 2003, he was promoted to CBS News correspondent, reporting on the Iraq War, John Kerry’s presidential campaign and Hurricane Katrina.
Acosta moved to CNN in March 2007 and is based in Washington D.C.
4. Acosta Called Sean Spicer ‘Kind of Useless’ & Said the White House Was ‘Stonewalling’ the News Media With Off-Camera Gaggles
Before White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned, Acosta made headlines for blasting Spicer as “kind of useless” during a CNN report in June. That month, the White House communications team was mostly holding off-camera press “gaggles,” or meetings with members of the media.
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“When Sean Spicer…comes in, and just says, you can’t record the video or audio from these briefings…that wouldn’t be tolerated at city council meetings,” Acosta said, adding that covering the White House was like “covering bad reality television.”
In a tweet, he added, “Make no mistake about what we are all witnessing. This is a WH that is stonewalling the news media. Hiding behind no camera/no audio gaggles.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, Acosta explained why he was being so open about his frustrations with the Trump Administration, which had repeatedly called CNN “fake news” to his face.
“I think I’m just covering a story, honestly,” Acosta told the Post. “When the president of the United States calls the press ‘fake news’ and ‘the enemy of the American people,’ I think that’s when you have to get tough and ask the hard questions.”
Spicer accused Acosta of grandstanding just to get attention on social media.
“If Jim Acosta reported on Jim Acosta the way he reports on us, he’d say he hasn’t been very honest,” Spicer told the Post. “I think he’s gone well beyond the role of reporter and steered into the role of advocate. He’s the prime example of a [reporter in a] competitive, YouTube, click-driven industry. He’s recognized that if you make a spectacle on the air then you’ll get more airtime and more clicks. . . . If I were a mainstream, veteran reporter, I’d be advocating for him to knock it off. It’s hurting the profession.”
5. Acosta Famously Asked President Obama ‘Why Can’t We Take Out These Bastards?’ About ISIS
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Acosta raised some eyebrows before Trump took office. During a press conference in Turkey, Acosta asked President Barack Obama a question about ISIS, referring to the extremist group as “bastards.”
“I wanted to go back to something you said… earlier when you said you have not underestimated ISIS’s abilities. This is an organization that you once described as a JV team, that evolved into a now occupied territory in Iraq and Syria and is now able to use that safe haven to launch attacks in other parts of the world,” Acosta said during the conference.
He then asked, “How is that not underestimating their capabilities? And how is that ‘contained,’ quite frankly?” Acosta noted that Americans are frustrated about having a strong military that hasn’t stopped ISIS.
“I guess the question is– and if you’ll forgive the language– is why can’t we take out these bastards?”
Obama insisted that he’d answered the question earlier in the press conference, adding, “I think I’ve described very specifically what our strategy is, and I’ve described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested.”