The tension between CNN's Jim Acosta and Fox News' Sean Hannity has escalated over the last few days — to the point of prompting some unusually strong language from the Trump-supporting Fox host — but Hannity made clear Wednesday that even though he's tired of Acosta's "bullsh**," if anyone "dares lay a hand" on Acosta or any of his peers in the media, he'll be the first to come to their defense.
The strong language and strong defense stem from the viral footage of Trump supporters taunting Acosta at a Trump rally in Tampa on Tuesday with "CNN sucks!" Acosta described the "sad scene" as evidence that the president and "some in conservative media" are inflaming potential violence against members of the press.
In response, Hannity smacked Acosta for complaining Tuesday, suggesting he deserved the disdain the crowd had shown him at the rally. Acosta fired back with a tweet Wednesday, describing Hannity as a "propagandist for profit, peddling lies every night," and "injecting poison into the nation's political bloodstream" regarding the press:
Hannity shot back with some similarly harsh language: "Jimmy @Acosta sorry your precious feelings are hurt & that people see through your lying bullsh** for what it is. FAKE NEWS. #CNNSUCKS."
While the two media personalities' professional relationship is clearly on the rocks, on Wednesday, Hannity took on a slightly less adversarial tone at one point while addressing Acosta and the issue of potential violence against members of the media. Hannity took a moment to underscore that if anyone resorted to violence against someone in the media, including Acosta, he would be "the first person to jump in and fight on your behalf." Mediaite provides the transcript:
Hannity: Let me say this clearly and loudly. I want every journalist in this country, everyone, I don’t care who you work for, to be safe. And I will tell you right now, I will be the first person to come to your defense if I’m there and anyone ever dares lay a hand on you. If I was standing there, if I see it happen, I will be the first person to jump in and fight on your behalf. Physical violence is never acceptable to me, nor is it acceptable to the conservatives I know and respect. And let me also be clear, if you are a conservative, and by the way, you ever threaten anyone, you are not a friend of mine, you are not a friend of this program and by the way — or the conservative movement of which I’m just a small part of.
But while Hannity made clear that he would stand by his liberal peers if anyone ever did resort to violence, he wasn't willing to concede to Acosta and co. that Trump fans chanting "CNN sucks!" means that they are willing to commit violence.