The White House today would not condemn the on-camera mob jeering of CNN’s Jim Acosta at a Trump rally in Florida last night, with press secretary Sarah Sanders this afternoon excusing the attempted shout-down as freedom of speech.
“While we certainly support freedom of the press,” Sanders said at today’s White House press briefing when pressed about the incident, “we also support freedom of speech.”
Sanders wouldn’t budge from the good-people-on-both-sides approach.
“The president as I just said does not support violence against anyone or anything and we’ve been very clear every time we’ve been asked about that,” Sanders said. “When it comes to the media, the President does think that the media holds a responsibility. We fully support a free press, but there also comes a high level of responsibility with that.”
She added: “It’s a two way street. We also ask that people act responsibly and report accurately and fairly.”
Acosta, CNN’s senior White House correspondent, tweeted footage last night of his encounter with Trump supporters in Tampa. Some in the crowd chanted “CNN sucks,” and yelled “stop lying” and “liar”, with one man showing off a t-shirt reading “F*ck the media.” Several people flipped the finger – or two – at Acosta’s camera.
See Acosta’s tweets below.
“Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa,” Acosta tweeted. “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”
This morning, Acosta tweeted more footage, writing, “Another snapshot from Trump’s Tampa rally, I tried to take a picture with a father and his daughter while people yelled ‘CNN sucks’ in my face. I am sorry that this little girl had to see that.”
Trump himself retweeted the mob-jeering video, passing along the clip from son Eric, who hashtagged it #truth.