President Donald Trump held a rally in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday evening in support of the gubernatorial bid of Republican Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, and as usual, it was widely criticized by mainstream media networks.
CNN’s Jim Acosta was on the scene — rather inexplicably, given the deeply antagonistic relationship he has developed with the president, his administration and his supporters. Acosta’s presence and the rather unfriendly reception he received at the rally was addressed the next day during White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’s daily briefing.
Prior to the start of the rally, Acosta attempted to deliver a live report from inside the quickly filling arena, but was nearly shouted down by a large number of Trump supporters behind him who loudly chanted “CNN sucks!” — among other things — while he was speaking.
Acosta later described the crowd as “menacing” and the CNN reporter tweeted out a video of what he called a “sad scene” of the “hostility whipped up by Trump.” Here is a short clip of him dealing with the deafening “CNN sucks!” chant during his live shot:
At Wednesday’s daily briefing, Sanders was asked if President Trump encouraged that sort of behavior from “fringe groups” of his supporters and if the White House would condemn such “menacing” behavior toward a member of the media.
Sanders may very well have anticipated such a query, as she replied with what seemed to be a prepared statement: “On the first part, the president condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual, and certainly doesn’t support groups that would promote that type of behavior.”
“We’ve been clear about that a number of times since the beginning of the administration,” she continued. “On the second part of your question, the president — as I just said — does not support violence against anyone or anything and we’ve been very clear every single time we’ve been asked about that.”
“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 — the media routinely reports on classified information and government secrets that put lives in danger and risk valuable national security tools,” Sanders said.
She noted that such reports weren’t confined solely to the current administration. In the 1990s, reports were made about then-al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone — and the U.S. ability to listen in on his calls — that prompted him to stop using the phone and resulted in our nation losing track of him prior to the 9/11 terror attacks.
“Unfortunately it is now standard to abandon such common sense ethical practices,” she continued. “This is a two-way street. We certainly support a free press, we certainly condemn violence against anybody, but we also ask that people act responsibly and report accurately and fairly.”
No doubt stinging from that not-so-subtle rebuke against the media’s penchant for overtly biased and inaccurate “fake news,” another reporter jumped to Acosta’s defense and noted that there had been no violence or dissemination of state secrets at the rally, and lamented that the crowd was attempting to prevent Acosta from getting his broadcast out and demanded to know whether the White House thought that was right or wrong.
Sanders replied, “While we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech, and we think those things go hand in hand.”
The liberal media won’t like what Sanders had to say in that daily briefing, but it was the blunt truth. The media do indeed enjoy a certain freedom that is guaranteed by the First Amendment. But like all other freedoms, it comes with a certain responsibility to not be abused or misused for nefarious purposes, which is how many of Trump’s supporters view the “fake news” that emanates from such outlets as CNN and reporters like Acosta.
The crowd that harangued Acosta at the rally in Florida may have pressed the limits of respectability in their treatment of the reporter, but given the manner in which he himself has disrespectfully harangued the president at news conferences and other events, as well as the recent track record of his network, many feel that such treatment — which fell far short of being violent or even truly “menacing” — is warranted and justified, whether the liberal media is comfortable with it or not.
Do better at your jobs, supposedly unbiased mainstream media, and such things won’t happen in the future.
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