Trump supporters filmed hurling sustained abuse at journalists following Make America Great Again rally

'We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy'

Tom Embury-Dennis
Wednesday 01 August 2018 17:09 BST
Barrage of hostility against media at Trump rally

Donald Trump supporters have been filmed hurling sustained abuse at journalists following one of the US president’s “Make America Great Again” rallies.

Footage showed a crowd surround a perimeter fence separating the press from the public after Mr Trump had finished his speech at the Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday evening.

As security looked on, supporters wearing MAGA hats and holding signs peddling popular right-wing conspiracy theories jeered and swore at the assembled press, with many of the mainly white crowd holding up a middle finger.

One Trump supporter showed off a “F*** the media” T-shirt, while others could be heard branding the press “a piece of s***” and shouting, “Stop lying”.

One woman appeared to swear at Jim Acosta, a CNN news anchor, while shouting: “Hey Jim, you suck!”

A handful of supporters showed off signs peddling popular right-wing conspiracy theories.

At least three could be seen promoting a bizarre online community called QAnon, whose members believe in a secret master plan by Mr Trump to overthrow the so-called deep state.

One sign said: “His name was Seth Rich,” a likely reference to a debunked claim that the Democratic National Committee killed an employee for leaking emails in 2016.

Mr Acosta, who shared footage of the scene on Twitter, said it was just a “sample” of the abuse faced at the rally in Tampa.

“I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt,” he said. “We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”

Mr Trump later retweeted footage shared by his son, Eric Trump, which showed dozens of supporters at the same rally chant “CNN sucks!” while Mr Acosta delivered a speech to camera.

The footage prompted disquiet about the US president’s continued denigration of the media.

Even Anthony Scaramucci, Mr Trump’s former press secretary, condemned the scenes.

Trump supporters at a rally jeer and hurl abuse at journalists
Trump supporters at a rally jeer and hurl abuse at journalists (Twitter/Jim Acosta)

“This isn’t our best. It’s not who we are,” he wrote on Twitter. “I don’t always agree and am often upset with journalists but we are flashing warning lights now that we shouldn’t be flashing.

“The free press needs to be protected as well as their opinions. That’s why that Amendment was First.”

During the rally itself, Mr Trump attacked the media for what he perceived as a lack of credit for America’s 4.1 per cent economic growth rate.

“It was a number that everybody said was not reachable, and I would never want to say it during the campaign, even though I believed it. Because they would not have given us the break,” Mr Trump said as he pointed towards reporters.

“Fake news, fake news. They are fake.”

He also repeated his false claim that he is the most popular figure in the history of the Republican Party, and attacked “fake news” for publishing “suppression polls” that failed to reflect his popularity.

It came just days after AG Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, warned in a meeting with Mr Trump that the president’s rhetoric was “increasingly dangerous”.

“My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” Mr Sulzberger said. “I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.”

He continued: “I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labelling journalists ‘the enemy of the people’. I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

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