According to The Daily Beast, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended attacks on the media and CNN’s Jim Acosta made by Trump supporters during the president’s rally in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday night.
During a daily press briefing on Wednesday, the Daily Mail’s David Martosko asked Sanders if she would be willing to condemn the verbal attacks hurled at Acosta and the free press at the rally the previous night, asking specifically if it was “wrong” for the president’s supporters “to be menacing towards journalists doing their job.” Martosko, however, did not mention CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta by name.
During the Tuesday night rally, Acosta posted a video of the crowd hurling insults at both him and his network on Twitter, adding that he is concerned “that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt.”
Sanders, however, would not agree with Martosko that it is wrong for the president’s supporters to heckle reporters for simply trying to do their jobs. Instead, Sanders said that while President Trump does not condone violence against reporters and journalists, “the president does think that the media holds a responsibility.”
“We fully support a free press,” Sanders said but went on to claim that the media has a certain level of responsibility it must maintain. “The media routinely reports on classified information and government secrets that put lives in danger and risk valuable national security tools,” she added, going on to claim that media had previously leaked important information about Osama Bin Laden’s satellite phone.
“Unfortunately,” Sarah continued, “it’s now standard to abandon common sense ethical practices.”
“We certainly support free press, condemn violence against anybody,” she reiterated, “but we ask people act responsibly and report accurately and fairly.”
Unsatisfied with this answer, Martosko proceeded to follow up on the question, asking Sanders to specifically state whether it was “right or wrong” for supporters of the president to heckle, threaten, and disrupt reporters, noting that while no physical violence occurred, Acosta was still being prevented from doing his job. Sanders simply responded, “While we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech. And we think those things go hand in hand.”
Once the briefing came to an end, Martosko took to Twitter to further comment on the situation, writing, “So the takeaway is that the White House won’t discourage the president’s crowds from shouting down reporters and yelling that their networks suck during live broadcasts. Good to know.”
“There’s a First Amendment tension between speech and press,” he added, “and ultimately one side must lose.”