Veteran journalist Dan Rather says U.S. President Donald Trump “will be personally accountable” should any violence erupt against the media in the wake of the president’s attack on “fake news.”
The American journalist lashed out at Trump following the president’s rally in Florida where his supporters jeered CNN journalist Jim Acosta.
“Facing the taunts and harassment, yet again, was CNN’s Jim Acosta,” Rather wrote on social media. “To watch the video makes me sick. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise in fury.”
Acosta was reporting live from a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Tuesday, where the journalist was called a variety of things, including “traitor” and “liar.”
WATCH: White House addresses Trump’s Tampa rally
“I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt,” Acosta tweeted.
The broadcaster tweeted a video showing Trump supporters flashing him the middle finger while telling him: “You suck!”
CNN has long been Trump’s media bullseye, and he has refused to take questions from the news network, dubbing it “fake news.”
“For many reasons, none of them fair, Acosta has come to symbolize the idea of ‘the enemy of the people’ to many Trump supporters,” Rather said. “He is on point, out front and the reporter the powerful hate most and have him in their bull’s eye.
“He’s in the most danger, professionally and personally—and perhaps even physically,” Rather said.
The Tampa crowd chanted “CNN sucks! CNN sucks!” during Tuesday’s rally.
On Wednesday, the White House was asked whether the Trump administration condones the actions of their supporters.
“While we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “We think those things go hand-in-hand.”
Coverage of Donald Trump and the media on Globalnews.ca:
Last month, Trump met with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger. Trump said they spent “much time talking about the vast amount of fake news being put out by the media and how that fake news has morphed into the phrase, ‘enemy of the people.’ Sad!”
Sulzberger later issued a statement saying that he was concerned that the president had labelled the media an “enemy of the people” and that he warned that this “inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
On Wednesday, Rather echoed Sulzberger’s comments.
“But I will tell you one thing. If violence ever comes to the press in this environment, President Trump will be personally accountable,” Rather said.
–with a file from Jesse Ferreras