[UPDATE: The story just gets uglier. The Trump campaign is calling the allegedly assaulted reporter a liar; meanwhile, the guy caught on video punching a protester has now threatened to kill him. See updates at end of post.]
The latest video of violence at a Trump rally may be the most chilling one yet. In the video from last night (you can find it at the end of this post), a black protester gets punched in the face by a white Trump supporter as he’s being escorted off the premises.
So which of the two men gets wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by security? The protester. Trump’s “security” guards seem to provide about as much real security as did the Hells Angels at Altamont. (Happily, the actual puncher has been charged with assault.)
It’s easy enough to see why these incidents keep happening, and it’s not just because Trump rallies are filled with angry racist shitheads.
It’s also because Trump has indicated, again and again, that he approves of his supporters roughing up, and tossing out, protesters; indeed, on one recent occasion Trump himself said of a protester being tossed out of a rally that “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
Now assorted media outlets are reporting that a top Trump aide has assaulted a female reporter.
According to the reporter in question, Breitbart’s Michelle Fields, Trump was wandering around talking to reporters after a press conference. She asked him a question about affirmative action.
Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.
One witness told the Daily Beast that Field’s assailant, reportedly Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, had “yank[ed] her down toward the ground like a ragdoll,”
Wait, you may be wondering, did you just tell me that Trump’s campaign manager (allegedly) assaulted a reporter from Breitbart?
Breitbart? The agenda-driven right-wing pseudo-journalistic entity that’s pretty much completely on board the Trump train? The “news” site that once published an article with the breathless, braggy title “Donald Trump Praises Breitbart’s Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle: ‘Very Good Reporter.'”
Well, yeah. Apparently Lewandowski mistook her for a real journalist from a real publication. As the Daily Beast notes,
Lewandowski’s explanation to [Breitbart’s Matthew] Boyle, said these sources, was that he and Fields had never met before and that he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.
Oh, ok then, no harm no foul!
So far, at least according to the most recent news reports I’ve seen, Breitbart has released only a very tepid statement on the alleged attack, noting that “someone” had assaulted their reporter, and that if that someone was Corey Lewandowski, “Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology.”
It seems pretty clear that Breitbart is more interested in its friendly relationship with Trump than it is in the safety of its reporters.
And Trump doesn’t seem to care at all that his freaking campaign manager, according to multiple witnesses, physically assaulted a female reporter whose only crime was asking The Donald a question he evidently didn’t want to answer.
Racist violence is now a regular feature of Trump rallies. Will actual physical assaults on members of the media by Trump staffers become a thing too?
UPDATE: This story just gets uglier by the minute. The Trump campaign is flatly denying that the assault on Fields happened, saying the accusations are “entirely false.” Lewandowski, meanwhile, has accused Fields of being “an attention seeker.” Salon has a useful post with more details.
Fields, for her part, Tweeted a photo of the bruises she says are a result of the assault, and Washington Post reporter Ben Terris has provided more details of the assault, which he says he witnessed.
Breitbart, whose response to the alleged assault was at first rather tepid, now says (through a spokesperson) that “Breitbart continues to stand 100% with Michelle Fields and believes that Corey Lewandowski must accept responsibility for his actions and apologize.” The “news” site has also suspended a reporter who posted a bunch of Tweets seeming to imply that Fields was making up the assault.
Meanwhile, the guy who sucker-punched the protester told Inside Edition that he had no regrets, saying that he liked “knocking the hell out of that big mouth,” adding that the protester “deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
What the hell.
Here’s the video of the protester getting putnched at a Trump rally yesterday: