Update (6/2/20 8:45 p.m.): Please see here for further developments.
President Donald Trump delivered a speech from the White House tonight condemning protests that have wracked the nation since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. Trump announced he would be mobilizing “thousands and thousands” of “heavily armed” military personnel to quell protests nationwide if they continued. While Trump was speaking, police forcibly dispersed peaceful protesters who were gathered at Lafayette Park, which is adjacent to the White House grounds in Washington, D.C.
Fox News glorified Trump’s stunt, showing his photo-op with minimal coverage of the preceding attacks on peaceful protesters.
MSNBC and CNN both showed footage of police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds. The protesters assembled at the park were by all accounts peaceful and were not provoking police. After crowds were dispersed by police, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal Church. As a CNN chyron noted, the violent actions by the police in dispersing peaceful protesters from the park was done for nothing more than a presidential photo-op.
Fox News initially speculated that the increased police activity in Lafayette Park was due to Trump’s enforcement of D.C.’s 7 p.m. curfew, even though it was clearly occurring before the deadline. Before Trump left the White House, Fox anchor Bret Baier speculated that crowds were dispersed so the president could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. As Trump was about to leave the White House, Fox contributor Brit Hume remarked that the speech showed that Trump prioritized the “restoration of order.”
As Trump walked through the recently tear-gassed Lafayette Park, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum compared him to President Abraham Lincoln, remarking that Trump was “retaking this territory.”
MacCallum reiterated this point shortly thereafter, saying Trump sent the message that he was “taking back this real estate, this territory.”
Fox News contributor Karl Rove (who is advising Trump without disclosure on Fox) insisted Trump’s photo-op was indicative of him “seeking to restore … a sense of calm, of peace, of normality to our cities.”
Fox News reporter Kevin Corke later said that protesters were “ushered” out of the park.
Fox “straight news” anchor Harris Faulkner also praised Trump.
Another Fox “straight news” reporter also decided to not mention the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters.
Fox News' homepage led with it as well.
CNN reported that Trump was upset about media coverage portraying him as having been hiding in a bunker during protests outside the White House on Friday night. His walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church was apparently meant to combat that narrative. No one at the church was reportedly aware that Trump was going to do this photo-op.