CNN reporter Jim Acosta recounted his experience of being verbally attacked at President Donald Trump’s Florida rally on Tuesday, telling HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday that the president is “putting targets” on journalists’ backs by constantly deriding the press as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”
Footage of rallygoers hurling verbal attacks, including angry chants of “CNN sucks,” at Acosta as he tried to report from the event went viral ― especially after the president and his son Eric retweeted a video with a message that seemed to endorse the vicious behavior.
Acosta shared with Cupp his take on why the crowd was so angry with him in particular and who was to blame.
“He is really whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us,” Acosta said of the president. He mentioned that he tried to speak with some of the Trump supporters to learn why they were so upset with him and the network, and he got the impression they were taking cues from prime-time Fox News hosts. Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson lead programs in the conservative network’s prime-time hours.
“My sense of it is that these opinions that these folks have at these rallies ― they’re shaped by what they see in the prime-time hours of Fox News and what they hear from some conservative news outlets that just sort of give them this daily diet of what they consider to be terrible things that we do over here at CNN,” Acosta said. “It’s very unfortunate, but it’s a pitting of American against American, and, honestly, it needs to stop.”
As footage of the crowd screaming at Acosta spread Tuesday night, Hannity defended the crowd’s behavior.
“They’re not wrong,” Hannity said of the hecklers. “The people of this country are screaming at you for a reason. They don’t like your unfair, abusively biased treatment of the president of the United States.”
He then ran a montage of Acosta clashing with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and reporting on Trump as the network’s chief White House correspondent.