U.S. President Donald Trump offered praise for what he called “Great people!” as he shared a video of coronavirus anti-lockdown protesters confronting a local journalist and accusing him of peddling “fake news.”
The president shared a video originally posted by Kevin Vesey, a reporter for News 12 Long Island who covered this week’s protest in the area against the state’s stay-at-home order. In the video, Vesey made his way down a sidewalk while surrounded by protesters carrying signs calling for the reopening of businesses along with others supporting Trump.
Some of the anti-lockdown protesters stopped to harass the journalist, including one who repeated a common phrase used by Trump toward media members and outlets who are critical of him.
“You are the enemy of the people!” a protester was heard shouting as the journalist walked past.
Others began chanting “Fake news is not essential” as the journalist continued to film. Trump actually retweeted the video two separate times, including one late on Friday in which he quoted that phrase.
In sharing the message on Saturday, Trump appeared to praise the protesters, calling them “Great people.”
People can’t get enough of this. Great people! https://t.co/b4HM0C298h
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
Vesey also shared a longer report where he explained what happened behind the scenes as he filmed the protest, showing many people who were cordial along with a small number who stopped to harass him.
RECAP: Our @KevinVesey relives the moments several protesters angrily confronted him while he broadcasted on Facebook Live.
— News12 (@News12) May 15, 2020
Vesey noted that he was narrating the Facebook live video where he made observations about the size of the protest and whether people were observing social distancing. He initially interviewed a woman who was concerned about her family’s small business closing, which Vesey said was a “good conversation” and “nice interview.”
It was after he moved on and began to show other protesters that some turned to harassing him, including a woman who he had interviewed for a previous story and whom Vesey said did not agree with his reporting on people who did not observe social distancing.
“You can see that she’s not wearing a mask and she’s getting pretty close to me,” he said, noting that the woman said she had COVID-19 and did not believe she needed to wear a mask. Vesey said he also had COVID-19 but still wears a mask as there is no conclusive evidence that people who have been infected have antibodies that prevent further infections.
While Trump appeared to encourage the protesters harassing Vesey, other journalists have praised him for showing professionalism in the face of such hostility.
“Thanks for trying to do your job,” Katie Couric tweeted on Friday.