Three short points about this clip, via the Free Beacon.
1. I understand why some people are creeped out by it. Having an arena full of hardcore fans of a politician all hooting at you at the same time would be intimidating. Acosta has nothing to fear from the average Trump supporter but it’s not the average person in any group whom people worry about. It’s the random crazy, and all it takes is one. And if anything, Trump’s demagoguery towards the media is getting worse, not better:
The bit about not letting the media sell out the country by criticizing him personally is over the top even for Trump. No one got physical with Acosta this afternoon but you could imagine someone who’s unbalanced reading those Trump tweets and deciding that someone should teach CNN’s guy a lesson. The president really should tone it down. If he doesn’t care about reporters feeling intimidated, he should care about the political fallout to him if someone did take a swing at Acosta.
2. All of that said, I don’t get a “menacing” vibe from the crowd in the video. I get a “let’s prank Acosta” vibe by chanting “CNN sucks” during his live shot. The atmosphere reminds me of watching wrestling as a kid and the crowd booing when the Iron Sheik came out to the ring. They disliked him, sure, but they understood that he had his part to play in the pageant before them. You didn’t boo the Iron Sheik because you wanted to string him up, you booed him or chanted “Iran sucks” because it was fun, a ritual part of the spectacle. Acosta’s in the same role here, the “heel” parading in front of the crowd right before Hulk Hogan shows up and starts flexing. Whether he realizes he’s part of “the show” or not, he is. That makes the clip feel less intimidating to me than like a joke that everyone’s in on.
3. Although the chanting is meant to demean Acosta, you can’t watch this and not come away thinking that he’s become every inch the media rock star he clearly wants to be. He’s not getting the Iron Sheik response because he’s a random guy from CNN, he’s getting it because he’s Jim Acosta. He tangles with Trump every week or two at presidential press conferences, he’s on CNN every afternoon preening about how brave he is for being willing to shout questions athat the president won’t like. Even Acosta doesn’t want to feel intimidated at a rally, I’m sure, but being recognized by every man and woman there and treated as a major antagonist to their hero, which is how he constantly styles himself? C’mon. This is a dream come true for him. Being disliked by Trumpers is already a badge of honor among the media and no one’s more disliked than Jimbo. He’s adding this to his personal video highlight reel as soon as he gets back to the hotel.
It would take a heart of stone not to laugh when he informs Blitzer that the crowd is chanting “CNN sucks.”