'A wink and a dog whistle': CNN's Acosta calls out Trump's 'unhealthy fixation' with catering to his base
CNN's Jim Acosta (Photo: Screen capture)

Beneath White House aide Stephen Miller's bizarre comments defending the president's new meritocratic immigration policy were many racialized undertones -- and three commentators laid them bare in a CNN segment following Wednesday's bombastic press briefing.

Speaking with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, White House correspondents April Ryan and Jim Acosa were accompanied by former NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks in discussing the "dogwhistles" Miller's briefing gave to more racist members of the right.

Brooks started off the panel by pointing out that Miller's assertion that the current immigration policy hurts African-American workers is offensive because not all black workers are "low-skilled or unskilled" employees.

Ryan, who along with Acosta was in the briefing, said it "went too long" and that it was "very ugly in that room" as Miller attacked reporters (including herself, when he yelled over her). She went on to say the White House aide attempted to "pit the African-American community against the immigrant community" with a bill ostensibly meant to help black Americans, but, as she pointed out, had no input from them.

Blitzer then moved to Acosta, who teleconferenced in from the White House, and asked him why the concept of immigrants knowing English before arriving to the U.S. "is so central" to this new immigration strategy.

"At times, I think this White House as an unhealthy fixation on what I call 'the three M's': the Muslims, the Mexicans and the media," Acosta said. "Their policies tend to be crafted around bashing one of those three groups, and we see it time and time again. Today on immigration, what the White House is essentially saying with a wink and a dog whistle to these battleground states they won, is that 'immigrants coming in from Latin America are taking your jobs.'"

Acosta, who was at the center of a heated and much-tweeted-about exchange with Miller, went on to explain why that argument is so illogical.

"Immigration is not the reason the factory closed in Pittsburgh or the coal mine that shut down in West Virginia," he concluded. "The people that are struggling there, they need policies to get them out of this mess where they've been for generations."

Watch these commentators lay out why Miller's defense of Trump's new immigration policy is so racially-charged below, via CNN.