The White House is condemning a violent meme video of a fake President Donald Trump shooting and stabbing the media and his political opponents that was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort.
The footage, which the New York Times obtained, was from a conference that occurred last week. Trump was not present at the conference, but Donald Trump Jr., former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were scheduled to speak. The three-day conference was held at Trump National Doral Miami by the pro-Trump group American Priority. Sanders and a source close to Trump Jr. told the Times they did not see the video.
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Trump had yet to see the video, but that “based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) October 14, 2019
Trump has yet to speak out himself about the video.
The video, which is nearly four minutes long, shows Trump’s head superimposed over the face of a character from “The Kingsman” film during a brutal shooting scene in a church. This doctored remake labels the church, “The Church of Fake News.” Poorly-photoshopped Trump barges in and begins assaulting his critics, which include Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, the logos of several news media outlets including HuffPost and CNN, 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and a Black Lives Matter logo — all superimposed onto faces of victim characters in “The Kingsman” scene.
Trump has come under fire for condoning violence against his opponents and the media before.
At a rally during the Iowa Caucus in February 2016, Trump invited his supporters to “knock the crap out of” protestors, saying he’d cover the legal fees.
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” he said. “Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell … I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”
In March of that same year, a rally attendee John Franklin McGraw was arrested for punching a protester as he was being escorted out.
At a 2018 rally in Montana, Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianaforte for body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs a year earlier. At the time, Gianaforte was running for Congress. Trump’s remarks came shortly after news of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder broke. Gianaforte assaulted Jacobs after Jacobs asked him a question about healthcare policy. Gianaforte at first lied to police, saying that Jacobs grabbed him, but when video evidence of the incident surfaced, he admitted his guilt.
“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said.
He then recalled hearing about the incident, saying he was worried it would ruin Gianaforte’s chances of winning, but then saying he believed the assault helped Gianaforte’s campaign.
“I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him,” Trump said. “And it did.”
He was met with cheers and applause.
In 2017, Trump tweeted a GIF that depicts him punching a wrestler with the CNN logo superimposed on his head.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Sanders has denied that Trump has ever promoted violence.
“The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence,” she said in a 2017 press briefing. “If anything, quite the contrary.”
Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for Trump’s 2020 campaign, told the Times that Trump’s campaign does not condone the video.
“That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence,” he said.
Violence against news reporters and media workers is, in reality, a serious problem worldwide, not to be poked fun at in a shoddily-doctored parody video.
A 2018 Reporters Without Borders report found that an “unprecedented” number of journalists were killed, detained, held hostage and disappeared worldwide.
In 2018, 80 reporters had been killed, 348 had been detained, 60 had been held hostage and three had disappeared.