A Journalist Was Physically Attacked at a Trump Rally and Somehow This Is Not the Top Story
President Donald Trump held a political rally in El Paso, Texas Monday evening that was themed “Finish the Wall.” Amidst his usual bromides and sloganeering, the commander in chief hit his compulsory “fake news” media harangue, which led the roughly 6,500 attendees into lustful boos.
Judging by the smiling reaction of the hand-picked rally-goers standing behind Trump, many, if not most, saw it as political theater straight from the realm of professional wrestling entertainment that the president so effortlessly parrots. Yet in this instance, at least one attendee was so ginned up by Trump’s rhetoric that he physically assaulted a photojournalist covering the event for the BBC.
And yet this story — a journalist getting physically attacked while a sitting president verbally attacked the press — earned nary any mention on morning news programs. Fox News White House reporter John Roberts put the news in stark relief, tweeting:
So – it finally happened. A journalist was attacked at a @realDonaldTrump rally.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) February 12, 2019
Trump appeared to notice the dust-up and temporarily stopped his presentation to ask if everything was okay. Immediately after he appeared to be assured that all was well, he went back to the piqued and divisive rhetoric that helped him win election to the highest office in the land. You can watch that moment here:
The moment during Trump El Paso #MAGA rally last night when BBC cameraman Ron Skeans was shoved on the media platform.
Trump: “You all right? Everything OK? Please. OK, thank you, thank you.” Gives thumbs-up. pic.twitter.com/MEjJ3aTXSS
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) February 12, 2019
While there have been equivocations with these kinds of instances before, this occasion was clear: this literal attack on the press was not just in correlation to Trump’s anti-media rhetoric; it was caused by it. That’s is the assessment of the Eleanor Montague, the BBC editor also in attendance:
Just attended my first @realDonaldTrump rally where my colleague BBC cameraman Rob Skeans was attacked by a Trump supporter. The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night #TrumpElPaso pic.twitter.com/Oiw8osPms3
— Eleanor Montague (@EleanorMontague) February 12, 2019
Since the string of attempted bombings of journalists and Trump’s political enemies by a Trump supporter — recall, he had countless pro-Trump slogans literally emblazoned on his van — a moment like this was inevitable.
It bears repeating that a media culture that constantly embraces conflict and amplifies outrage has some very obvious negative effects. One lesser symptom of that culture, however, is the numbness and apathy that spreads like a virus to not just the news consumer, but reporters and editors who begin to lose perspective on what is newsworthy. This appears to be one such example.
To be clear, here is a simple reminder of the dynamic at play:
The leader of the free world has engaged in dangerous, Stalin-esque rhetoric that labels the media the “enemy of the people” and does so, via his Twitter feed and media appearances, on high repeat. Moments after such statements were made during a Monday evening rally, an individual in attendance was so riled up that he physically attacked a journalist on site. Physical attacks on the press are (and it’s sadly almost hackneyed to point out at this point) a hallmark of fascist states.
And yet it gets barely any mention.
To their credit, on Tuesday morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe covered this story twice. CNN’s New Day and Fox & Friends ignored it entirely. A search of the network morning shows reveals the story was ignored there as well.
Before you point out that this story isn’t even headline news on this very site, it was. From roughly 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., the life cycle for “high metabolism” news readers of the site, it was the top story. Sadly, there has been no outcry from the media on this story worthy enough to replace it.
Granted, the story has not been ignored, but it has been frightfully under-covered. It should alarm everyone that the President of the United States inciting a crowd to attack a member of the press that covers him is not a breaking news story. It should also alarm everyone that violence can happen at a president’s political rally and the White House will not have to answer for it, in the form of a statement or even a Trump tweet. The only thing that can compel a response from this White House is a press that refuses to accept this as a trivial event. Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be happening.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.