It was inevitable that someone at a Donald Trump presidential campaign would eventually attack a journalist. After all, the president incites people to a near-frenzy. Then, he points to the cameras in the reporters’ box and shouts “fake news” and denounces them as “enemies of the people.” The scene is reminiscent of the Romans putting Christians in the Colosseum with the lions for amusement.
At Trump’s last rally in El Paso, Texas a man in the ever-present red MAGA “Make America Great Again” hat “blind-sighted” and shoved camera man Ron Skeans and other news crews until another a blogger pulled him back. Skeans works for BBC, which stated that the president “heavily criticized the media at the rally.”
President of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) Olivier Knox released a statement condemning the attack on the BBC journalist. In it he called for “the president of the United States” to tell his supporters “violence against reporters is unacceptable:”
‘The White House Correspondents’ Association condemns the physical attack on our colleague at the president’s rally in El Paso, Texas. We are relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt. The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.’
Skeans told the BBC he heard the out-of-control red-hatter cursing. Then, a “very hard shove” caught him totally off guard. The camera man said the attacker almost knocked him and his camera over repeatedly. BBC Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue was sitting in front of the camera and saw the incident. He said it was an “incredibly violent attack:”
‘This is a constant feature of these rallies – a goading of the crowds against the media (and he had been) spat at before.’
BBC Washington producer Eleanor Montague was sitting next to O’Donoghue and confirmed his description of the event, saying that Skeans “got the brunt of it.” She also noted that the protester went on to attack other journalists.
Fortunately, the camera man was not seriously injured, but a red line has been crossed. The next attack could be far more serious. After all, Trump’s people have long supported the right to bear and conceal arms, including rapid-fire Uzis.
‘I didn’t know what was going on.’
Trump noticed the attack, “confirmed Mr. Skeans was well,” and then gave a thumbs up. It was unclear whether this was directed at the camera man or the attacker. Skeans returned the thumbs up.
As early as August 2018, UN experts had forewarned that Trump’s “strategic” speech would incite attacks and would:
‘…increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence.’
MSNBC’s Katy Tur covered Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. At times, the secret service insisted on accompanying her back to her transport.
Publisher of The New York Times A.G. Sulzberger has asked Trump to quit assaulting the media.
At a Florida rally last year, CNN taped Trump supporters “yelling abuse and swearing at reporters.” At the time, former White House communications director for the shortest-ever term Anthony Scaramucci condemned the supporters. He said:
‘(This abusive behavior was) not who we are.’
A Trump campaign official indicated that the attacker might have been drunk.
BBC has requested that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders review its security arrangements in regard to the media traveling to Trump’s rallies. Thus far, the White House has not responded to WHCA’s Olivier Knox.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.