Jim Acosta visits the University of Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- CNN chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta paid a visit to the University of Virginia on Thursday to speak on the challenges and controversies of being a reporter in today's political climate.

Acosta has clashed with President Donald Trump several times in the past. Trump has ignored Acosta's questions and has called out Acosta specifically as "fake news."

In 2018, Trump tried to take away Acosta's White House press pass, which a judge ruled to be a violation of his rights.

The UVA Center for Politics, which hosted Acosta along with the Frank Batten School of Leadership, gifted Acosta a large press pass that cannot be taken away from him at the event.

Acosta said his right to report on the White House is something that should not be taken for granted.

"We're joining a category of countries where the press isn't safe and the press isn't free," he said. "And we just can't have that."

Acosta said Trump's rhetoric is dangerous to both democracy and journalists as human beings.

"My concern is that if we continue to have that kind of rhetoric, somebody is going to get hurt, a reporter is going to get hurt, or even worse than that, maybe even killed," said Acosta. "As a country, we can't just keep tearing each other apart like this. At some point, it just has a real unhealthy effect on our democracy and on our country."

Larry Sabato, director for the Center for Politics, said he wanted students to see Acosta as a person.

"They've been called fake news, they've been called the enemy of the people, they're nothing of the sort," said Sabato. "This is just a maligning of people who are essential to democracy. And I wanted them to hear directly from someone who has been viciously attacked from the president on down."

Acosta said no matter what the Trump administration throws at him, he is not going to stop doing his job.

"They can take away our press pass but they can't take away our ability to do what we do on a daily basis," he said. "And we still have a system of checks and balances to make sure that if they do take your press pass away you can get it back."

Acosta said he is writing a book with more details on his clashes with the White House titled, "The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America."



 
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