White House reporter: Let's face it, Acosta's life was in danger at that Trump rally

I mean, the guy was signing autographs and posing for selfies with members of the crowd in the Tampa after they got done booing him.

Although, if you believe Acosta, he was doing that mainly out of fear: “I think it helps calm them down. If I were to say no, it could make it more venomous.” It’s the first supposedly violent mob in history that can be appeased with signed photos of its target.

In fairness to him, other reporters chimed in after the Tampa rally to say that feeling intimidated at a Trump rally is nothing new:

Question for those in the TV news biz: Do media outlets provide their own security for reporters at rallies, or does the arena or the White House provide it, or what? If the networks provided it, I assume we’d hear about it — a lot. “Trump rallies are so febrile that we need bodyguards for our reporters.” It’d be a key point made against Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric. Which, notes John Ziegler, has actually worked out pretty well for everyone involved so far.

Of course, to President Trump, when he says “enemy of the people,” he really means an “enemy of Trump.” This is simply how he views the world. If you say nice things about Trump you are a friend, if you say bad things about Trump, you are the enemy. Almost nothing else matters in how he makes such determinations, which was fine when he hosted The Apprentice, but not so great when he is supposedly the leader of the free world…

So let’s be clear about what is really going on in this phony battle. Trump plays to his base and protects himself from legitimate criticism by discrediting the media. The state-run [right-wing] media gets something they can constantly attack without having to directly defend Trump. Most of the rest of the media plays the martyr and pretends to be fighting to save the country, when in reality they care far more about their own celebrity and job security, which fighting with Trump enhances.

So long as all involved treat it as a game — boo now, get autographs later! — it’s win/win. The moment someone takes a swing at a reporter, not so much. Today on Fox, Chris Stirewalt suggested that the solution is simple: Just have reporters stop attending his rallies. They’re not necessary to the broadcast and pulling them out would deny Trump a foil in the back of the room during his speeches. I agree that nothing of substance would be lost if reporters forfeited their chance to ask Trump fans for the 8,000th time whether there’s anything he could do to lose their votes, but the press would balk at the idea of letting itself be physically intimidated out of a place it has a right to be. That’s a very slippery slope, incentivizing people on all sides to behave thuggishly towards them.

I bet you’ll see Democrats make hay of this if they take back the House this fall, as it’s an easy way to score points at Trump’s expense. Imagine an appropriations bill allocating a certain amount of taxpayer money for extra security for the media at POTUS’s rallies because, Pelosi will say, you never know when Trump might sic his fans on them from the podium. A few days of coverage over whether the president might actually inspire an angry crowd to attack reporters is a good news cycle for Dems.