On Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta called out Fox News host Sean Hannity on Twitter after Hannity publicly approved of Trump supporters heckling Acosta at a rally on Tuesday. However, Hannity wasn’t the only one to encourage the supporters’ harassment—so did the president.
Let’s start from the beginning, at Trump’s rally in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. Trump rallies are famous for inciting a mob mentality and often hate-filled chants such as “lock her up” when Trump mentions Hillary Clinton (and sometimes even when he doesn’t). However, on Tuesday, the chants began before Trump even took the stage. Acosta—a CNN reporter known for asking the president tough questions, often yelling them across rooms—was reporting live from the rally. However, during his report, the crowd began chanting, “CNN sucks,” “go home” and “fake news.” Nevertheless, Acosta maintained his composure and told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “Obviously, all of those things are false. We’re staying right here, we’re going to do our job and report on this rally to all of our viewers here tonight.”
On Wednesday morning, Trump retweeted Eric Trump's tweet about the harassment of Acosta in an apparent endorsement of it.
Acosta then appeared on CNN to discuss the harassment. He said, “It felt like we weren't really in America anymore.”
Following Trump's tacit approval of the situation, Hannity began his Wednesday show with a monologue about the rally. The monologue not only approved of the harassment but also encouraged it. Hannity spoke directly to Acosta and said, “The people of this country, they're screaming at you for a reason.” Also, notice the “anti-Trump media” graphic including almost every other prominent news outlet.
That brings us to Acosta's response on Twitter Wednesday night:
Hannity responded once again:
Trump has repeatedly attacked CNN and other news outlets such as NBC, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Hannity has long been a supporter of Trump and a mouthpiece for the “fake news” narrative that is ultimately inciting and encouraging violence against reporters of the free press. As the Washington Post pointed out, “Trump didn’t cause the Annapolis tragedy but there is a connection.” If the president’s attacks on the free press continue, violence against reporters will only increase. This week, Trump and Hannity demonstrated that they are unfazed by—and even encourage—that violence.