Right-wing media personalities are helping cover for GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump after a spate of violent clashes at his rallies, painting him as the “victim” of the violence, even as mainstream media figures have called out Trump for encouraging violence. Conservative pundits are also trying to scapegoat MoveOn.org with the bogus claim that the progressive group is responsible for violence at a canceled Trump rally.
Violence Against Protesters 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.
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. [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]
Right-Wing Media Cover For Trump's Incitement, Claim He's The “Victim” Of Violence At His Rallies
Conservative Radio Host Wayne Allyn Root: “It's Not [Trump's] Fault That He's Being Victimized At Rallies.” On the March 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest and conservative radio personality Wayne Allyn Root claimed Trump is “being victimized” by protestors at his campaign events. Root likened Trump to “a woman [getting] attacked in the street,” saying, “You don't blame the victim ... . It's not his fault that he's being victimized at rallies”:
STEVE DOOCY (HOST): What do you make of these disrupters? And Trump himself is taking a strong approach. You know, just get him out of here if they're causing trouble. What does that say, particularly for Ohio where there are a lot of late deciders? If you're a late decider and you see Trump doing that, what does it do to your head?
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT: Well, I think it's a positive in a long run. I can't tell you what's going to happen tomorrow, you know instantaneous decisions. But I do know that some of the effect you see in Florida, Marco Rubio's now in third place in the most recent polls and he's almost behind two-to-one to Trump. I mean, Ohio's a little different because the sitting governor is John Kasich and who knows how people react to him in their own state. But I do know that in general in the nation, I think people want someone who isn't a punching bag. Donald Trump is saying for the first time in seven and a half years under Barack Obama, we're not going to take it anymore. The middle class, the working class, conservatives, tea partiers, we're going to hit back a little bit. We're not a punching bag. And I think that's important. You don't blame the victim, Steve. This is, you know, if a woman gets attacked in the street, do you blame the woman? No, you don't. If you get mugged, if you get car-jacked, is it your fault that someone pulls you out of the car and kills you? Of course not. These are leftist radicals, most of them paid protesters by MoveOn.org, by George Soros, by the leftist ideology organizations. And they're trying to use Saul Alinsky tactics to slander Donald Trump and make him out to be a racist. It's not his fault that he's being victimized at rallies. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/14/16]
NY Post: “Don't Blame Trump For Violence At His Rallies.” The New York Post editorial board wrote on March 13 that “Blaming Donald Trump even in part for the violence that has broken out at his rallies is nonsense,” adding, “if he were inciting violence in any real way, you'd see Trumpites disrupting other candidates' gatherings.” The board implied that Trump is the victim of “the same left-wing agitation that has plagued the nation for decades”:
Blaming Donald Trump even in part for the violence that has broken out at his rallies is nonsense. This is the same left-wing agitation that has plagued the nation for decades now, a rage that fixes on one target of opportunity after another.
In the '90s, the same kind of radicals besieged meetings of the World Trade Organization -- with blood on the streets of Seattle in 1999. New York City got a taste of it at the 2004 Republican convention; most of Boston was shut down to prevent the same at that year's Democratic convention.
America saw it in the lawlessness and riots of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The folks in Ferguson, Mo., blamed outside agitators for turning their legitimate protests into riots that devastated the city.
Yes, Trump has been brusque with protesters at his events -- but if he were inciting violence in any real way, you'd see Trumpites disrupting other candidates' gatherings.
Instead, Americans trying to leave Friday's Trump rally in Chicago -- the one canceled over fears of violence -- had to wade through angry mobs outside.
Again, all the violence comes from lefties going to someone else's event to make trouble -- and, as in Chicago, celebrating with chants of “We won” and “We stopped Trump” when they managed to get the event canceled. [New York Post, 3/13/16]
Fox's Brian Kilmeade: “The People Who Protest The Event Are The Problem.” On the March 14 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade defended Trump and his supporters, saying, “the people who come to his event aren't the problem. The people who protest the event are the problem”:
BRIAN KILMEADE: But because of Friday night's cancellation, because this clown, this 22-year-old running on the stage, every single one of his events is going to be an opportunity for some knucklehead to get some publicity and for some group to get their name in the limelight and maybe raise some money off it, Steve, because they could stop a Trump rally. People say, yeah Donald Trump's inciting -- look at it this way, the people who come to his event aren't the problem. The people who protest the event are the problem.
AINSLEY EARHARDT: Protesters are getting mad at Donald Trump for throwing them out -- he's throwing them out of their events--
STEVE DOOCY: If they disrupt.
EARHARDT: I found this interesting. I was reading an article this morning, the ACLU even was quoted saying that campaign events are considered political theater. That candidates, they rent out the space, they are allowed to tell anyone that they have to get out and they can leave, they can be arrested and charged with trespassing. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/14/16]
Conservative Commentator John Phillips: “Vandals” At Trump Rallies “Really Prevented Donald Trump From Being Able To Conduct This Peaceful Rally.” On the March 14 edition of CNN's New Day, conservative columnist and Trump supporter John Phillips blamed the “vandals” who “came in to assault police officers” for preventing “Donald Trump from being able to conduct this peaceful rally.” Phillips embraced Trump's “provocative” rhetoric, claiming it “is part of the reason why Donald Trump is the front-runner”:
JOHN BERMAN (HOST): Donald Trump should get credit for the tone at his rallies. Do you agree with that?
JOHN PHILLIPS: I do. It was thousands of people who met in Chicago for a peaceful rally, and you had people, who I won't even refer to as protesters, because they're trespassing and they're vandals, came in to assault police officers, they assaulted Trump supporters, they destroyed property. They were there when they were asked to leave. They really prevented Donald Trump from being able to conduct this peaceful rally, and a lot of the response that we've seen, not only from the Democratic allies of these protesters, but from his Republican rivals, reminds me of the response that we saw in Cologne, Germany when you had all of those refugees that on New Year's Day, decided to assault women, go after them. And what was the response from the mayor of Cologne, which was to put out a set of guidelines for women in the area. Oh don't wear your skirts too high, don't do anything to provoke or incite, because they're not really responsible for what the reaction is. It's outrageous. We live in a free society with a First Amendment. People should be able to meet peacefully. If you have a problem with it, you have every right to protest. Just do it outside and don't be violent.
BERMAN: John, do you agree though that Donald Trump has used his First Amendment rights at times to if not provoke violence, at least condone the use of violence at his rallies. He's talked about punching protesters in the nose. He's talked about the old days where in his mind, the old days meant carrying protesters out on stretchers. Do you think Donald Trump has done nothing to contribute to a somewhat caustic atmosphere at these events?
PHILLIPS: Well again, I would consider the protesters to be the people outside the building, not the people inside the building who were trespassing. Donald speaks in bold terms. [CROSSTALK]
BERMAN: Is punch in the nose a provocative remark?
PHILLIPS: Yeah, it's provocative, but this is part of the reason why Donald Trump is the front-runner. Donald speaks in bold terms, and this is what the other Republicans running for president don't get. He further solidified himself after Chicago as the Republican front-runner. I expect him to win in Florida, I expect him to win in North Carolina, I expect him to win in Illinois and Missouri. And the response that the other Republicans gave was pathetic, and it's going to further solidify themselves as the guys that fitted below him. [CNN, New Day, 3/14/16]
Sean Hannity: “Violent Agitators Hijacked What Was To Be A Peaceful Campaign Rally.” On the March 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity bemoaned to Donald Trump that “somehow people have been trying to flip this on you ... . as if you stating your political opinions is responsible for” violence at his events. Hannity claimed it was the “violent agitators” who " hijacked" an otherwise “peaceful campaign rally,” while ignoring previous violent incidents that have occurred at Trump rallies:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump canceled a campaign rally in Chicago earlier tonight amid security concerns. Now this after violent agitators hijacked what was to be a peaceful campaign rally.
We have statements that actually prove this fact -- and we've been watching our own coverage here on Fox -- and some people with Bernie Sanders, Moveon.org put out a statement that Mr. Trump, Republican leaders who support him, his hate-filled rhetoric should be put on notice after tonight's events. They actually said that. That these protests are a direct result of violence that occur at Trump rallies. Well, I don't see any violence at Trump rallies. And I have been watching and flipping the dial tonight and somehow people have been trying to flip this on you, some of your competitors and, frankly, some pretty ignorant so-called journalists have been trying to do the same thing. As if you stating your political opinions is responsible for this. And I want to give you a chance to respond to that. We have seen a lot of this before you even got in this race in Ferguson and Baltimore. The murder rate in the city of Chicago is a national disgrace. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/11/16]
CNN's Jeffrey Lord Blames Violence At Trump Rallies On Protesters. On the March 10 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom, CNN contributor and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord bemoaned “people who go to these rallies with the deliberate intent of provoking” violence, blaming “the American left” for disrupting Trump rallies “in search of violence”:
BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): This is about the anger, this is about the feeling.
DAVID CATANESE: It doesn't matter though. He's the candidate, and if he wants to be president of the United States he should stand up and denounce violence.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Why didn't Obama denounce the Black Panthers then? Would you agree calling for Obama to denounce the Black Panthers?
CATANESE: This getting out of control. This is only happening at Trump rallies with reporters, with photographers. He needs to do it, that's what leaders do. And he should denounce the violence, because that is outrageous.
JEFFREY LORD: David, David, number one, there's no place for violence period in the American political system, right?
LORD: Unfortunately, the American left has a very, very long and detailed history of doing exactly this --
CATANESE: Why are we -- but that's not what we're talking about --
LORD: No, no, no, that is what we're talking about --
CATANESE: That's fine --
LORD: We are talking about people who show up at rallies, Donald Trump or whatever -- to provoke, to provoke.
BALDWIN: But shouldn't Mr. Trump say “stop?”
LORD: They are in search of violence. That's what their objective is.
CATANESE: That's fine, but you have to --
LORD: What do you think the 1968 Democratic convention was all about?
CATANESE: You're bringing up all these different angles -
LORD: It's history, David, it counts. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/10/16]
Mike Huckabee: “It's The Classic Let's Blame The Victim For What Happened To Him.” On the March 14 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, former Fox host and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called it “very unfair” to argue that Trump instigates violence at his rallies. Huckabee categorized criticism of Trump's incendiary rhetoric as “the classic let's blame the victim for what happened to him”:
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): You would have people who would disturb an event, not a lot, and you contain it and your people contain it. They argue, some of Donald Trump's critics argue that he kind of spices it up and instigates it. You say what?
MIKE HUCKABEE: I think that's very unfair. I mean to say that Donald Trump is trying to incite violence, that's a criminal accusation if you think about it, Neil, because it's a criminal act to incite violence. So if you're accusing Donald Trump of trying to encourage violence, you've accused him of a criminal act. And I don't think that's true, and I don't think if they thought about what they're saying, they would agree with it. The fact is it's the classic let's blame the victim for what happened to him. Look, this is about left-wing thugs, that's what it is, who want to stop freedom of speech for someone they don't agree with. And the classic understanding in America is that the best antidote to free speech you don't like is free speech that you initiate. If you don't like what somebody is saying at a podium in front of a crowd, get yourself a podium. Get yourself a crowd and say something different. But don't shut down the voice that you just don't happen to like or agree with. That's the dangerous thing in America is shutting down the voices of people you disagree with. And there was one that I saw on Fox the other night that actually said, well I believe in free speech. I don't believe in hate speech. And I thought, who died and left you in charge to determine what's hate speech and what isn't. This is the really the insanity of the radical left. These are not people who have thought through their positions. They operate with emotion, but with their brains turned off. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/14/16]
Right-Wing Attempts To Scapegoat MoveOn.org For Violence At Trump's Canceled Rally Are Ridiculous
MoveOn.Org Printed Signs And Helped Recruit Attendees For Protest In Response To Trump's Support For Student-Led Violence. The insinuation that MoveOn.org is responsible for violence at the Chicago rally is false. In a statement responding to Trump's attacks on the organization, Ilya Sheyman, executive director of Moveon.org Political Action, pointed out that the group had supported local activists by “printing signs and recruiting MoveOn members to attend the student-led protest,” and he said that the protest “was a direct result of the violence that has occurred at Trump rallies and that has been repeatedly encouraged by Trump himself.” From Sheyman's statement:
Like so much of what Donald Trump says, his attempt to scapegoat progressive activists and MoveOn.org for violence at his cancelled rally in Chicago is profoundly dishonest and untrue.
MoveOn proudly supported University of Illinois at Chicago students and local organizers in their courageous nonviolent protest outside the event. We helped student leaders by printing signs and recruiting MoveOn members to attend the student-led protest.
“But let's be clear about one thing, the protest Friday night was a direct result of the violence that has occurred at Trump rallies and that has been repeatedly encouraged by Trump himself from the stage. There is only one person to blame for the chaotic and often violent nature of Trump rallies: Donald J. Trump. This sort of violence does not happen at Sanders, Cruz, Clinton, Rubio, or Kasich events, despite the fact that there are often protests at their events. [MoveOn.org statement, 3/12/16]
Sunday Political Talk Show Hosts And Other Media Figures Have Called 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.” [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.” [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.” [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 3/13/16]
CBS' John Dickerson Pressed 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. [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/13/16]
NBC's Chuck Todd Aired 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.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 3/13/16]
The Atlantic: “Trump Encourages The Crowd To Vent Its Fury At The Protesters.” In a March 10 article, Atlantic staff writer David Graham pointed out that at his events, “Trump encourages the crowd to vent its fury at the protesters. 'See, in the good old days this didn't use to happen, because they used to treat them very rough,” he said. “We've become very weak.'” [The Atlantic, 3/10/16]
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell: “We've Never Seen A Presidential Candidate Encourage Violence, But Trumpism Has Changed Everything.” On the March 10 edition of MSNBC's The Last Word, host Lawrence O'Donnell said of Trump: “We've never seen a presidential candidate encourage violence, but Trumpism has changed everything.” O'Donnell juxtaposed the language of a man who punched a protester to Trump's, pointing out that Trump had “discussed killing people who don't agree with him, thought about it on TV for a moment, and then decided not to do it.” [MSNBC, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/10/16]
CNN's Chris Cuomo: Trump's Comments About Protesters Are “Sending A Dangerous Message.” On the March 11 edition of CNN's New Day, Chris Cuomo explained that comments Trump has made like “I want to punch that guy in the face” are “sending a dangerous message.” Cuomo also questioned whether Trump does enough “to discourage the kind of ugliness” that has been seen at his events. [CNN, New Day, 3/11/16]