WH On Trump Fans Heckling Acosta: ‘The Media Holds A Responsibility’

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/07/23: Press briefing by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (aka Sarah Huckabee Sanders) in the White House Press Briefing Room in the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LightRocket via Getty Images

After CNN’s Jim Acosta was loudly heckled Tuesday night at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “while we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech, and we think that those things go hand in hand.”

That came in response to a question at the White House press briefing, where Sanders was asked about the heckling — which grew quite aggressive, according to video Acosta posted to Twitter, and spilled onto his broadcast.

“Is the White House willing to say right now, in view of what happened with one of our TV colleagues last night, that it is wrong for his most vocal supporters to be menacing towards journalists doing their jobs in a situation like that?” a reporter asked.

Sanders refused to condemn the yelling at Acosta.

“When it comes to the media, the President does think that the media holds a responsibility,” she said. “We fully support a free press, but there also comes a high level of responsibility with that.”

She went on a tangent, blaming the media for “routinely report[ing] on classified information and government secrets that put lives in danger and risk valuable national security tools,” before, for some reason, citing the reporting on Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone in the late ‘90s.

“Because of that reporting, he stopped using that phone and the country lost valuable intelligence,” Sanders said. (That’s not what happened.) 

The reporter pressed: No one was being violent toward Acosta at the rally, he said, and Acosta wasn’t broadcasting state secrets.

“They were trying to do stand-ups at a public rally, and you have people trying to yell over them preventing them from doing their jobs and yelling that their network sucks on live TV,” he said. “Does the White House support that or not?”

“While we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech, and we think that those things go hand in hand,” Sanders said.

This post has been updated.

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