A Trump supporter wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat launched into an attack against members of the press at the Donald Trump’s rally in El Paso, and now the president himself is shouldering much of the blame for reportedly whipping the crowd into a “frenzy” against the media.
The incident took place during a contentious visit to El Paso as Trump continues to make his case for a border wall. As Trump was speaking to a crowd of more than 6,000 supporters at an arena in El Paso, a man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat ran to a small area where members of the press had been cordoned and shoved BBC reporter Ron Skeans before swearing at him, the BBC reported. Skeans said it was a hard shove that came from his blindside, one he did not see coming.
Another member of the press was eventually able to wrestle the man away as he continued to shove Skeans and a BBC cameraman, the report added.
After the attack, Trump made reference to the ruckus and then reportedly gave a thumbs-up. Though some reported at first that it appeared Trump was condoning the attack, the BBC confirmed in a statement that the president was checking in on the journalists who had been attacked. Skeans responded with a thumbs up.
“The president could see the incident and checked with us that all was okay,” the BBC said in a statement. “It is clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job.”
But many took aim at Donald Trump and other speakers for using incendiary rhetoric against journalists during the rally. Fellow BBC reporter Eleanor Montague said on Twitter that the crowd had been “whipped up into a frenzy against the media” during the rally in the lead-up to the man’s attack.
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
Donald Trump frequently refers to the press as the “enemy of the people” and calls stories critical of him and his administration “fake news.” Critics say his rhetoric is dangerous and encourages his supporters to lash out, as one did last year in mailing bombs to those frequently targeted by the president, including CNN.
Experts from the United Nations have even spoken out against Trump’s increasingly attacks on the media, the BBC reported. David Kaye and Edison Lanza of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the attacks were “strategic” and were meant to undermine the freedom of the press.