Things are getting truly scary for the press in the Trump era.
Tuesday night's Trump rally in Tampa, Florida was a window into the chilling results of Trump's campaign of hostility against the press.
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta tweeted a frightening first-person video showing him being targeted by dozens of Trump rally attendees, many of whom screamed obscenities at him and made aggressive gestures.
"I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt," Acosta wrote.
"We should not treat our fellow Americans this way," he added. "The press is not the enemy."
Other journalists were quick to agree with Acosta's assessment of the crowd's viciousness — and the danger that Trump's anti-press furor could pose.
"This was as hostile as I’ve seen people," New York Times reporter Katie Rogers said.
"Horrid!" tweeted veteran White House correspondent and frequent Trump administration target April Ryan. "The press is now in fear of their safety because [Trump] has targeted us and continues to do it!!!!!"
The scene was even enough to appall former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who warned that "we are flashing warning lights now that we shouldn’t be flashing. The free press needs to be protected as well as their opinions. That’s why that Amendment was First."
Acosta's was just one of several videos featuring the extremely hostile crowd that were circulated Tuesday night.
One video, featuring Trump supporters loudly chanting "CNN sucks!" in unison, was tweeted by Eric Trump and then retweeted by Trump himself.
Trump has been relentlessly attacking the press for years. These attacks have already earned him the condemnation of organizations dedicated to international press freedom.
But the situation has markedly escalated over the past few weeks.
The Trump White House held just three press briefings in the month of July — and, late last month, took the unprecedented step of banning a CNN reporter from an official event because she dared to ask questions at a photo op.
With his goading retweets of mob-like rally chants, Trump is explicitly encouraging his supporters to act out against reporters the way they did against Acosta.
And Trump's insistence on calling reporters "the enemy of the people" is truly dangerous.
With at least two more rallies scheduled for this week alone, reporters have good reason to worry that things could get worse.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.