Trump's circus targets CNN: Eric and Don Jr. incite supporters to gang up on Jim Acosta

The Trumps and Sean Hannity are openly supporting a pro-Trump crowd's attacks on CNN reporter Jim Acosta

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 1, 2018 12:17PM (EDT)

Supporters of Donald Trump shout down the CNN news crew before a rally Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP/Chris O'Meara)
Supporters of Donald Trump shout down the CNN news crew before a rally Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP/Chris O'Meara)

In the pre-Trump era (at least after Richard Nixon's administration), one would expect presidents and their supporters — especially their kin — to discourage outright hostility toward journalistic critics, even if the politicians themselves privately railed against them.

Based on how President Donald Trump, his son and his biggest mainstream media supporter are crowing about how CNN's Jim Acosta was harassed at a Trump rally, we are clearly long past that phase in American political history.

That video, in case you can't watch it, shows Jim Acosta being drowned out by protesters chanting "CNN sucks! CNN sucks! CNN sucks!" A few loud boos can also be heard in the background.

If this seems like a chilling example of a right-wing crowd expressing overt hatred toward a member of the press for holding their preferred demagogue accountable, you're not wrong. Unfortunately, the president's son Eric Trump took to Twitter to retweet a clip of Acosta being booed, followed by him tagging Acosta with the phrase "#Truth."

"Jim, they're not wrong," Hannity told his viewers on Tuesday night. "It's not false. They're probably because you don't watch your own network."

Hannity went on to say, "I’m going to actually give your network some advice, if you have an open mind and an open heart, maybe a little humility. The people of this country, they’re screaming at you for a reason. They don’t like your unfair, abusively biased treatment of the president of the United States. Now, if you want to earn the respect of all Americans, not the coastal elites in California, LA, San Francisco, D.C., and New York, maybe try reporting the entire story. Maybe try getting rid of the bias. Maybe examine, 'Why are people saying this to us?'"

After showing clips of various occasions when Acosta asked tough questions of the president, Hannity closed with a clip showing Acosta saying that the president had shown his true colors and they weren't "red, white and blue."

Hannity had a few thoughts about that.

"Jim Acosta, that's called opinion," Hannity said. "And you're extremely rude! Oh, and a liberal partisan hack! That's why Americans don't trust you or fake news CNN. You pretend to be fair and unbiased journalists. You're not! You're not reporting facts, you're giving your opinion! You're an opinion channel! Every minute of every day, every week, 24/7, hate Trump. And it's pretty obvious. And the people see it."

Hannity then offered another stream of advice.

"So instead of maybe doubling down on your anti-Trump rage, maybe look inward," Hannity said. "Maybe find your zen. Maybe find your inner peace. Analyze objectively the overwhelming, non-stop hysterical coverage against the president. In other words, maybe you'll have better luck getting an interview if you start being a little fair. Maybe, just maybe, you'll take my advice."

READ MORE: Right-wing talk show host Joe Walsh tells Salon: Donald Trump "betrayed his country"

The eldest Trump son followed up the attacks on the media on Wednesday morning in a tweet criticizing Politico's Marc Caputo for his tweet mocking Trump rallygoers:

President Trump's disdain for CNN is well known — recently flaring up when it came out that he was livid at seeing Melania Trump's TV on Air Force One tuned to the network and demanded that all of the televisions only show Fox News and with his attacks on The New York Times this week. Even Fox News had to make a point of standing by CNN after one of their White House correspondents was barred from attending an open press conference because of the network's critical coverage of the president.

"For those of you at home, if I may: journalists are not the enemies of the people. It’s quite the opposite. Our profession is enshrined in the Constitution and the Fourth Estate holds the essential job of being your eyes and often ears and when appropriate, your voice. It’s a cornerstone of our Republic," Fox News host Shepard Smith told his viewers.

He added, "As an aside, when the president attacks journalists, we question his motivation and try to discover the underlying reason. For historically those that regularly and as a matter of pattern attack the messenger, who degrade and belittle the purveyors of truth, and work to diminish the free press, often find the facts displeasing, and endeavor to keep you from knowing them."

Smith also promised his viewers, "We are on guard and we hope, politics aside, for the greater good, that you are, too."

"As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access. So far no response from the White House," Bret Baier, the chief political anchor at Fox News, declared in a statement at the time.

The network's president of news expressed similar thoughts.

"We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press," Jay Wallace announced in a statement at the time.

It is also worth noting that Hannity, in addition to providing nothing but fawning coverage of the president since the start of this administration, is hardly in a position to claim that he lacks a conflict of interest. Back in April, it was revealed that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen represented only three clients — Trump himself, Deputy Republican National Committee Finance Chair Elliott Broidy and Hannity himself. Considering that Cohen was widely regarded as the president's personal pit bull, a man who was fiercely loyal and would do anything to protect his boss, the fact that he and Hannity constituted two-thirds of the man's clientele is very telling.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Cnn Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Eric Trump Fox News Jim Acosta Sean Hannity