White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday asserted that “President Donald Trump condemns all acts of violence” against the media after a BBC cameraman was physically attacked at the president’s rally in El Paso the previous night.
“President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people – including members of the press. We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner,” Sanders said in a statement emailed to Newsweek.
Earlier on Tuesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) called on Trump to denounce violence against reporters after the incident at the president’s rally was caught on camera.
“The White House Correspondents’ Association condemns the physical attack on our colleague at the president’s rally in El Paso, Texas,” WHCA president Olivier Knox said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We are relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt. The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.”
Footage captured of the incident on Monday evening showed the moment an angry Trump supporter attacked British BBC cameraman Ron Skeans after Trump criticized the media during his speech. “F*** the media, f*** the media,” the attacker, who was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat shouted as he was dragged away from the scene. A campaign official later revealed that the man was intoxicated.
This is the shameful moment when my cameraman Ron Skeans was attacked at an @realDonaldTrump rally in El Paso last night – warning this video contains strong language. Happily Ron is fine. #TrumpElPaso pic.twitter.com/Ay5DYT6gjP
— Gary O'Donoghue (@BBCBlindGazza) February 12, 2019
As the attacker was removed from the press area, chants of “let him go” and booing echoed throughout a small section of the crowd in El Paso’s County Coliseum. Skeans told BBC that he felt a “very hard shove” from his blindside and at the time “didn’t know what was going on.” Before he could assess the situation, he was almost knocked over by the man twice before the attacker was pulled from the scene.
Trump, who apparently noticed the tussle, paused his speech and waited for Skeans to give him the thumbs up before proceeding.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has repeatedly condemned the mainstream media as “fake news” and an “enemy of the people.” In August, the United Nations argued that Trump’s “strategic” attacks on the media will increase the risk of violent attacks against reporters but the president has largely ignored the warning.
“The Trump Administration has accomplished more than any other U.S. Administration in its first two (not even) years of existence, & we are having a great time doing it!,” Trump tweeted last December. “All of this despite the Fake News Media, which has gone totally out of its mind-truly the Enemy of the People!”