As President Donald Trump made his way to a campaign rally in West Columbia, South Carolina, CNN Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta said he found himself in a “twilight zone” as he was targeted with boos and jeers from people who attended the event.
“When I was at this rally tonight, people were coming up to me and saying ‘why are you mean to President Trump, why are mean to Sarah Sanders?'” Acosta told CNN anchor Don Lemon on Monday night.
Acosta has been no stranger to Trump’s ire and has frequently butted heads with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in daily press briefings.
According to the CNN correspondent, Trump supporters, including a woman who whipped the crowd “into a frenzy,” accosted him by shouting and taunting.
“An elderly woman came up to me and said that I needed to get the ‘eff’ out,” Acosta said. “And then she turned to the crowd and whipped them all into a frenzy and they were saying ‘go home Jim, CNN sucks, fake news,’ and so on. And to me, it’s sort of like, really? This is civility?”
Video footage on social media captured the scene:
“It’s sort of like being beamed into the twilight zone, Don, covering a political rally where your fellow Americans —you stand for the pledge of allegiance, you do the national anthem — and then they all turn on you and start screaming at you like this. It’s just unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and it’s quite startling.”
But at one point, rally goers approached Acosta and asked for autographs and selfies, according to BuzzFeed News. Acosta reportedly obliged and signed campaign memorabilia, including a hat with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“I think it helps calm them down,” Acosta said, according to BuzzFeed News. “If I were to say no, it could make it more venomous.”
Another act of civility appeared to bridge the political gap between Acosta and the crowd. After an elderly woman at the rally was in need of a chair, Acosta reportedly gave up his seat:
“We did have a civil exchange,” Acosta later said on CNN. “I do think it’s possible for us to have civility in this society, Don, but we all have to work on it. Press secretaries, presidents, journalists, and people who go to these rallies as well.”
Acosta said many of those in the crowd were civil, while many became galvanized and “whipped up.”
“When I go to these Trump rallies, when I listen to the president speak to these supporters out there at these rallies, obviously, many of them are well-intentioned,” Acosta said. “They’re good, patriotic Americans. But the frenzy that people get whipped up to at these events, it’s astonishing.”
“It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in my entire career covering politics,” Acosta said. “And I think at times, it is scary and we saw some of that tonight.”
Meanwhile, Fox News personality Sean Hannity aired footage of Acosta’s hecklers during his program and called the moment “priceless.”
“Ouch, that hurts,” Hannity said on Monday night. “Best newscast they ever did, actually.”