This wasn’t meant as a winking Stranger Things reference to lighten up the exchange, at least it doesn’t look that way to me. It also wasn’t prompted by any heated rhetoric from Santorum. He was taking everything Camerota was throwing at him and doing his best to answer her questions. She finally just got angry and lashed out at him.

The moment in question came about six minutes into the interview. “He tweeted that the free press is the enemy of the people,” Camerota said. She continued, “And then the White House, of course, tweeted yesterday that he is inviting Vladimir Putin, as you know, a former KGB officer who has reporters killed…also not a fan of the free press and his political rivals, to the White House. And I’m just wondering Rick, do you ever get dizzy living in upside-down world?”

Santorum side-stepped the personal attack and tried to answer the question. “Look, I don’t like it when the president tweets out things that undermine the First Amendment,” Santorum said. “The free press element in our society. Does the press get it wrong a lot? And does the press vilify this president more than any president in probably the history of the country? Yes.”

“And does the president vilify the press more than any president ever in history?” Camerota interjected.

“It’s a mutual relationship. I would agree with that,” Santorum said. Asked if he was comfortable with that, Santorum added, “No, I’m not comfortable with it. But I’m not comfortable with people going after the president, accusing him of treason and calling for impeachment because of that.”

Santorum repeatedly said he did not support what the president was saying about America (in Helsinki) or about the media (on Twitter). But Camerota just kept coming after him as if he had made the comments himself. “Rick, I just have to clarify. You seem to have been comfortable standing next to Vladimir Putin and blaming America,” Camerota said.

“First off I’m not comfortable with that,” Santorum said before he was cut off by Camerota suggesting if he really disliked it he’d be okay with people comparing it to treason.

“It’s the greatest advantage that the president has which is people going ballistic and going too far in condemning this president for his actions,” Santorum said. “I think there were a lot of responsible condemnations of the president’s actions and then there were some that were irresponsible and consistent with the hysterics around this president,” he added.

I actually think Santorum did a pretty good job here. There’s really no defending Trump’s comments in Helsinki which is why the president himself has backed away from them over the past week. And as someone who has spent more than a decade criticizing the liberal bias in the media, I also agree with him that Trump’s “enemies of the people” language goes too far. He ought to show more respect for the First Amendment and the role the free press plays even if he thinks the media is often terrible in practice.

But Santorum is also right that the cries of treason in response are hysterical and make the critics look ridiculous. Trump’s saving grace is having enemies who become unhinged in the process of calling him out. Here’s the full interview: