Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A crowd of Trump supporters heckled CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a rally in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday night. (Photo: @emilylgoodin/Twitter)

'We Fully Support a Free Press, But...': White House Suggests Reporter Harassed by Trump Rally-Goers Probably Had It Coming

"Increasingly, Trump supporters are demonstrating just how aligned they are with his view that the political press is the enemy of the people."

Julia Conley

At a press briefing on Wednesday, the White House offered a defense of President Donald Trump's implicit endorsement of anti-press vitriol that was on display at his rally in Tampa, Florida the previous evening, when several Trump supporters heckled CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

When asked whether or not it is wrong for the president's "most vocal supporters to be menacing towards journalists," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that the president supports a free press, while appearing to suggest that Acosta and other journalists may be deserving of mistreatment.

"Despite his heavy reliance on the media to build his brand, President Trump has attacked the mainstream media repeatedly since the days before he entered the White House." —Eugene Scott, the Washington Post"We fully support a free press but there also comes a high level of responsibility with that," Huckabee Sanders told David Martosko, political editor of the Daily Mail. "The media routinely reports on highly classified information and government secrets that put lives in danger and risk valuable national security tools."

"No broadcaster was broadcasting state secrets," Martosko replied.


While trying to cover the event, Acosta was harassed by attendees who crowded around him, waved their middle fingers at him, and shouted, "CNN sucks!"

Making clear his endorsement of the treatment Acosta received, the president later retweeted a post by his son, Eric Trump, who applauded the behavior.

Last week, Acosta's CNN colleague, White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, was banned from a press briefing after asking the president questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin and an audio tape in which Trump could be heard apparently discussing a payment to a Playboy model who claims to have had an affair with him.

While the Trump supporters at Tuesday's rally did not become violent, Acosta shared concerns that what he saw was indicative of growing anti-press sentiment that could become dangerous for reporters.

Far from taking place in a vacuum, the rally-goers' harassment of Acosta followed numerous anti-media statements by the president since he began his campaign in 2015. In recent months Trump has referred to the news media as "the enemy of the American people," "really bad people," and "downright dishonest," and has singled out CNN several times.   

At Esquire, Jack Holmes noted that contempt toward the media was displayed at the rally alongside vocal support for the conspiracy theory known as "QAnon," positing that Democrats are planning to overthrow Trump.

"If you truly believe there is a Deep State plot to unseat the president you love so dearly, and in whom you have invested so much of yourself, and that The Liberal Media is complicit in this effort, how long until you take drastic action?" wrote Holmes. "After all, Pizzagate led a gunman to open fire at a D.C. pizzeria last year."

"Despite his heavy reliance on the media to build his brand, President Trump has attacked the mainstream media repeatedly since the days before he entered the White House," wrote Eugene Scott at the Washington Post. "And increasingly, Trump supporters are demonstrating just how aligned they are with his view that the political press is the enemy of the people."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·

Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·

Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo