Sunday political talk show hosts and reporters strongly condemned Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for “encouraging, even condoning violence” in his rallies after a series of violent events and increasingly incendiary rhetoric from the candidate.
Violence Becomes Commonplace At Trump Rallies
NY Times: “A Black Protester ... Was Sucker-Punched And Shoved By A Trump Supporter” At A Trump Campaign Rally. The New York Times reported on March 10 that videos on social media showed a “black protester” being “sucker-punched and shoved by a Trump supporter” at a Trump rally in North Carolina. The Times pointed out that the assault “was not the first violent incident at a Trump rally”:
A black protester being escorted out of a Donald J. Trump campaign rally on Wednesday in Fayetteville, N.C., was sucker-punched and shoved by a Trump supporter, several videos on social media show.
The protester, identified by The Washington Post as Rakeem Jones, 26, was being walked by sheriff's officers up an aisle at the Crown Coliseum, amid loud boos from the crowd, when a white man in a cowboy hat stepped toward Mr. Jones, punched him in the face and shoved him off-balance.
Mr. Jones stumbled, then could be seen on the floor surrounded by sheriff's deputies. In some of the videos, at least two deputies who were following Mr. Jones up the arena steps could be seen walking past the man who had just punched Mr. Jones.
It was not the first violent incident at a Trump rally, nor the first with racial overtones. Another African-American protester, a female student at the University of Louisville, was pushed and jostled at a rally in Louisville this month and called “leftist scum” and racial slurs.
Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, called such incidents unfortunate but said the campaign had “no control” over its supporters' behavior. She did note that the campaign plays a safety announcement before each event, instructing the crowd not to touch or harm protesters. [The New York Times, 3/10/16]
Mother Jones: “Another Trump Rally Turns Violent In St. Louis,” In A “Growing Pattern Of Routine Violence At Trump Gatherings.” Mother Jones reported that “at least one protester was bloodied” at a March 11 Trump rally in St. Louis:
A Donald Trump rally in St. Louis on Friday became the latest campaign event to turn violent, joining multiple others this week in a growing pattern of routine violence at Trump gatherings.
At least one protester was bloodied at the St. Louis event, and some were taken away in plastic hand ties by police officers. St. Louis Today's Junius Randolph and MSNBC's Trymaine Lee were among the journalists on the scene at the rally, and they captured the day's chaos. [Mother Jones, 3/13/16]
Sunday Political Talk Show Hosts And Reporters Call Out Trump For “Encouraging, Even Condoning Violence”
Fox's Chris Wallace: “The Record Is Clear ... You Have Condoned Violence In Rally After Rally.” During the March 13 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace called out Donald Trump for inciting violence at his rallies, stating “the record is clear. And we're going to put up some tapes. You have condoned violence in rally after rally”:
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Even before you had to cancel your rally in Chicago on Friday, there had been growing violence at some of your rallies around the country. And some of the rivals, some of your rivals in the Republican race say you have contributed to this with your rhetoric. Question, sir, do you take any responsibility for the violence at your rallies?
DONALD TRUMP: First of all, I disagree totally, Chris, with what you said. I have by far the biggest crowds, twenty-five, thirty thousand people. Last week we had in Alabama thirty-five thousand people. And out of that, we'll have some disrupters, sometimes put there by other people. But we'll have some protesters, and nobody's been hurt at all. And as big as these rallies are, nobody's ever been hurt. We talk and we try and be good and I will tell you, some of the protesters are very rough and they're bad dudes, and they swing and they punch, and nobody ever talks about that in the media. And if other people including the police because it's usually the police that handle it, if they get a little bit rough because they have no choice, the next day in the newspapers [unintelligible] but we have had nobody hurt. And when you think about it, when I have twenty-five thousand and twenty thousand people very routinely, by far the biggest, and we have some protesters stand up, who do you know that's been hurt over the last number of months? Nobody. Nobody's been hurt --
WALLACE: Sir, let's take one example. First of all, we've been running video that shows a number of punches being thrown. I don't know that people have ended up being hospitalized. But let's take one example on. Wednesday in North Carolina, a protester named Rakeem Jones was being peacefully escorted from the event, not saying he didn't do something provocative. Yes, you can see he flips off a crowd, but then a man in the crowd elbows him in the face, knocks him to the ground. And here's what the man says afterwards:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCGRAW: Yes, he deserved it, the next time we see him, we might have to kill him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, does that have any place in America?
TRUMP: No, it doesn't, and it's a shame that it happened. And I feel badly for everybody concerned and we don't condone violence. But the kid did, from what I hear, stick up a certain finger right in everybody's face. And this man has had enough, because I'll tell you what, people in this country are very angry. They're angry at incompetent politicians, they're angry at losing their jobs, not having a pay increase for twelve years and more effectively, everything's, this country is not, we can't beat ISIS. Our military is going to hell. You look at what's going on with the vets, they're treated horribly, they're treated worse than illegal immigrants. We have a big portion of this country that's fed up. You look at the rust belt and other areas of our country where our jobs are being taken. They're all being moved down to Mexico and other locations. They're being moved out of the United States. We have a president that doesn't have a clue. He doesn't know what's going on. And the people of this country are angry. They're not angry people, but they're angry now.
WALLACE: But you say and you just said again, you don't condone the violence. But, sir, the record is clear. And we're going to put up some tapes. You have condoned violence in rally after rally. Again, take a look.
WALLACE: That sure sounds like condoning violence. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 3/13/16]
CNN's Jake Tapper To Trump: “I Would Just Ask As A Fellow American” To Consider Toning Down The Rhetoric. During a March 13 interview with Trump on CNN's State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Trump if he “could consider whether or not dialing down the temperature, trying to bring down the temperature might be a healthier thing both for your campaign and for the nation at large”:
DONALD TRUMP: We have rallies of 25 -- 30,000 people and you haven't even said anything about danger in our rallies until Friday, and the danger was ended by a very good managerial decision not to have that particular rally, to postpone it.
JAKE TAPPER (HOST): I said something about it at the debate on Thursday night because people are worried about it.
TRUMP: How many people were -- hey Jake you made a statement, Jake could I ask you a question? You made a statement that at my rallies, people are -- it's dangerous. Other than for the other day with Chicago and the one man that rushed the stage and Secret Service did a very good job, but other than that, with thousands of people, 21,000, 25,000, 35,000 people a few weeks ago in Alabama. How many people have been injured at my rallies? Zero, zero.
TAPPER: I don't think that it's zero.
TRUMP: There's been nobody injured, but you make it like everybody's being broken down and injured. Because CNN reports very, very unfairly about me. I'll tell you what, so out of all of these rallies with thousands of thousands of people, and nobody is even close. By the way Bernie gets peanuts compared to what we get. And I say we because it's me and I'm just a messenger because there is a lot of anger in this country and it's anger at incompetence, it's anger at the border, it's anger at trade deals that are so bad for us that all our jobs are being taken out of the country, there is a lot of anger. I didn't need to do this, I have a wonderful life, I have a great, great company. I didn't need to do this, I wanted to do it because somebody has to do it.
TAPPER: I would just ask --
TRUMP: Our country is in trouble.
TAPPER: I hear you, sir. I hear you, sir, about the causes of the anger. I would just ask as a fellow American if you could consider whether or not dialing down the temperature, trying to bring down the temperature might be a healthier thing both for your campaign and for the nation at large. But that's all the time we have, thank you so much for joining us Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Well if you would report it right. Well you should report it right. Because we've had no injuries at my events with thousands of people, you just don't report it that way. So do what you have to do. [CNN, State of the Union, 3/13/16]
ABC's Jonathan Karl: “I Have Never Seen A Situation Where You Have The Candidate Himself From The Podium Encouraging, Even Condoning Violence.” On the March 13 edition of ABC's This Week, ABC chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl noted that he had “never seen a situation where you have the candidate himself from the podium encouraging, even condoning violence.” Karl continued that he feared “that this could actually get worse” and that Trump is not going in a direction of “unifying the country”:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): Boy, Jon, you saw Senator Marco Rubio there look pretty shaken up yesterday when he was talking about this. And I think all of us are a bit taken aback. We haven't seen this kind of violence on the campaign trail since 1968.
JONATHAN KARL: It's hard to look at what is happening now and not think of those the images from Chicago in 1968 when you had violent clashes on the streets. And you had disruptions right on the floor of the Democratic Convention. Now, George, I have been to Trump rallies all over the country, and it is important to say that the overwhelming majority of Trump supporters are entirely peaceful. The overwhelming majority of the protesters are entirely peaceful. But I have never seen a situation where you have the candidate himself from the podium encouraging, even condoning violence. As these protests grow bigger, grow more fervent, I fear that this could actually get worse.
KARL: Ultimately, he's going to have to go a long way towards unifying the country. That's not the direction this is going. [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 3/13/16]
CBS's John Dickerson Presses Trump On When It's OK To Hit A Protester. During a March 13 interview with Trump on CBS' Face the Nation, host John Dickerson commented on Trump's remarks that he doesn't “incite any of this activity,” citing multiple explicitly violent encouragements coming from Trump. Dickerson mentioned Trump's comments that he would “like to punch” one protester “in the face” and his suggestion that for one protester, “it would be better if he was taken out on a stretcher.” When Trump appeared to defend a man who punched a protester in the face by saying the protester “had the finger up in the air,” Dickerson asked whether that was an appropriate threshold for violence:
JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): Mr. Trump, you've said that you don't incite any of this activity, but at several rallies you've said that protesters, you said about one, “I'd like to punch him in the face.” Another you suggested that it would be better if he was taken out on a stretcher. You suggested if one thought about throwing a tomato, that your supporters should “knock the crap” out of them. So how is that not encouraging the kind of behavior we're now seeing?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you first of all with all of the rallies I've had, and I get more people than anybody, as you know, by a lot. Thousands and thousands of people, 25,000 people is almost getting standard. You haven't seen one person even injured at one of our rallies. And the cases you're talking about, the one guy was a bad dude. He was swinging. He was hitting people. He was a very bad guy, and the police came in, and they really were very effective. And frankly some of the audience members had no choice but to be effective, and I didn't mind that at all. But, or they would have been hurt, frankly. The other one with tomatoes, I was told by the Secret Service that there were two people in the audience we've heard that have tomatoes, and they're going to throw them at you. They have good arms that could do some damage, OK? And I said to the people before my speech started, if you see anybody with tomatoes, you got to take them out, folks. You got to take them out, and I think everybody understands that.
DICKERSON: You say no one was hurt, but there was a gentleman who was walking out. The video shows him being escorted out, and then a supporter cold-cocked him. He was a) hurt, so there was somebody hurt, and he wasn't doing any damage when he was walking out. He was cold-cocked. You had suggested in one of your rallies that you would pay for the legal fees. Will you pay for the legal fees for that gentleman?
TRUMP: Well, I'm going to review it. And I understand and I don't condone violence. And I don't condone what happened to him and what he did, because he got carried away and it's very unfortunate. But this kid was walking out, and I understand he had certain a finger up in the air as he's walking out. And this man became very angry. And you know what, again, I don't condone violence, but the kid shouldn't have had the finger up in the air either, OK? If that's what he did. So I'm going to take a look at the tape, and I'll let you know.
DICKERSON: So is that the threshold? It's just the wrong gesture and it's OK to clock him?
TRUMP: Well, I think that's a terrible gesture if you want to know the truth. I mean we can say, oh it doesn't matter, but I think it's a terrible gesture. And you know it's interesting, these people are disrupters. They're not protesters. They're disrupters, they're professional disrupters in some cases. But that's all they do. They stand up and they disrupt, and if somebody did that at a Bernie rally, many of these people come from Bernie. And you know I have tremendous young people also. We have a whole level of young people, I can't even believe it, how young my audience is. But if they ever went to Bernie's rallies and did the same thing, I want to tell you, you would be so angry with me. Nobody talks about it, but you would be so against me. It's a whole different standard when it comes to a Republican conservative versus a liberal. If people went to their rallies and disrupted their rallies like my rallies are disrupted, the press would stick up for them and would make all sorts of excuses about how terrible it is. So, you know, we have two standards in this country, it's very unfortunate. The press is extremely dishonest. [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/13/16]
NBC's Chuck Todd Airs Clip Of Trump Calling For Violence Against Protesters, Asks Trump If Hand Gesture “Condones A Sucker Punch.” During a March 13 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked Trump if he accepted responsibility for rally violence after airing a clip of Trump suggesting that a protester would be “carried out on a stretcher” in the “old days” and that he'd “like to punch him in the face.” Trump doubled down, saying that he did not accept responsibility and that he had “no objection to what I said. I would say it again.” Trump then defended a 78-year-old supporter for sucker punching a protester by mentioning that the protester was “sticking a certain finger up in the air.” Todd responded by asking whether “that condones a sucker punch”:
CHUCK TODD (HOST): Earlier in the week there was an incident between a supporter of yours and a protester. And I want to play a piece of sound from a couple weeks ago from you and ask you about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: There's a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks. Like to punch him in the face, I'll tell ya.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Mr. Trump, 17 days later, that actually happened. One of your supporters decided to sucker punch a protester. Do you accept any responsibility for creating this atmosphere?
TRUMP: I don't accept responsibility. I do not condone violence in any shape. And I will tell you from what I saw, the young man stuck his finger up in the air and the other man sort of just had it. But I still, I don't condone violence. As far as my previous statement, we had somebody that was punching and vicious and gone crazy, a disrupter. They're not protesters. I'm telling you, they're disrupters. They're professionals, and he went absolutely wild punching. And frankly, when they punch, it's OK. When my people punch back because they have to out of self-defense, everybody says, “Oh isn't that terrible.” The fact is that we have very peaceful rallies. I've had many, many rallies. I have 25, 30,000 [[thousand]] people coming to rallies. And out of that, we have very, very little problem. We haven't had a real injury or anything. And then Chicago I canceled, and I did a great thing by canceling it because who needs the problems, who needs people getting hurt? I didn't want that.
TODD: But when you say --
TRUMP: So instead of getting --
TODD: But Mr. Trump, when you say, you know, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. Seriously, just knock the hell out of them. I promise you I'll pay for their legal fees.” How is that not condoning what this older gentleman did to this protester?
TRUMP: Well let me explain what happened. We were told before, just as I was going up on the stage, I was told by the Secret Service, “Sir, there's a person or two people in the audience that have tomatoes. They are going to throw them at you, we think. If they do throw them, you have to be prepared.” Now, you get hit in the face with a tomato, let me tell you, with somebody with a strong arm at least, let me tell you it can be very damaging. Not good. So I was told people were in the audience, two people with tomatoes that they're going to throw them at me. What I did is I say, by the way, if you see anybody with tomatoes, right at the beginning --
TRUMP: You got to stop them. Do whatever you want to do. I have no objection to what I said. I would say it again. People are there doing harm, you have to go and you have to use equal force.
TODD: Do you plan, I'm just curious --
TRUMP: It's not fair. It's a one-way street.
TODD: I'm just curious, do you plan on paying for the legal fees of this older gentleman in North Carolina who sucker punched the protester?
TRUMP: Well I'm not aware. I will say this, I do want to see what that young man was doing, because he was very taunting. He was very loud, very disruptive. And from what I understand he was sticking a certain finger up in the air. And that is a terrible thing to do in front of somebody that, frankly, wants to see America made great again. And so we'll see. I'm going to take a look at it. But I want to see what that man was doing.
TODD: And that condones -- and that condones a sucker punch, though?
TRUMP: No, as I told you before, nothing condones, but I want to see. The man got carried away. He was 78 years old. He obviously loves this country. And maybe he doesn't like seeing what's happening to the country. I want to see the full tape. [NBC, Meet the Press, 3/13/16]