WASHINGTON: A BBC cameraman was attacked by a Trump supporter on Monday night at a rally in El Paso, Texas, where the US President roused his base to a frenzy in support of funding for a border wall while continuing to denigrate critics, including Democrats and sections of the media whom he accused of being allies.
An agitated Trump fan violently shoved cameraman Rob Skeans yelling “F*** the media!” as a raucous crowd broke into chants of “CNN Sucks” shortly after the President’s now familiar broadsides against the media. He railed against “fake news” and told his supporters that “some of the most dishonest people in media are the so-called fact-checkers.”
The unidentified man wearing the a red MAGA cap was eventually removed by security, and a BBC spokesman later said Skeans is “fine,” while adding, “It is clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job.”
Trump witnessed the attack and called out “You all right? Everything OK?” before continuing his speech, which was aimed at rallying a base that is increasingly dismayed that he has not been able to fulfill his pledge to build a border wall and enforce tough anti-immigration measures that they believe will improve their lives and make America a better place.
In fact, a bipartisan deal between Republican and Democratic lawmakers that could avert another government shutdown this weekend was straightaway rejected by hardliner Trump acolyte Sean Hannity who called it a “garbage compromise” because it did not allocate sufficient money for a border wall.
“I’m getting details — $1.3 billion? That’s not even a wall, a barrier… Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain — look at this crowd,” Fox News’ Hannity, who like conservative commentator Ann Coulter echoes the hard-right Trump constituency, said as news of the agreement came during the raucous rally.
The agreement would provide nearly $1.4 billion for border barriers, below Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion.
Meanwhile, other journalists were more concerned with the threat to life and limb from out-of-control Trump supporters. BBC journalist Eleanor Montague tweeted that “the crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night” and the New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler noted that “mood in El Paso felt uglier, more discordant than at other rallies, post-2016 campaign.”
Some media analysts have warned that the way things are going, journalists could end up getting killed. “This incendiary rhetoric has consequences. In late October, a Trump fan sent package bombs to a number of regular targets of Trump’s verbal wrath, including CNN. Days later, another man, motivated by conspiracy theories about migrant caravans, opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11,” the online portal Vox noted.
The US President has kept up a relentless attack against the media, which is largely liberal, concentrated on the East coast and the west coast, and which has now made it a practice to fact-check his litany of lies, distortions, falsifications, exaggerations etc.
Trump’s familiar diatribe included ascribing high crime rate to illegal immigration while claiming El Paso transformed from “one of the most dangerous cities” into one of the safest cities in the United States after the construction of the border wall in a city that is twinned with Juarez on the Mexican side.
But El Paso, according to FBI dates cited by mainstream media, has had a consistently lower crime rate than the average among more than 20 similarly sized cities; it also reported the second-lowest violent crime rate in 2008 — before the construction of border fencing.
More broadly, immigrant-present communities have lower crime rate than otherwise, a fact that sits uncomfortably with the Trump constituency’s demonization of immigrants. Most murders, homicides, and mass shootings in the US are carried out by native-born Americans.
In fact, even as Trump was on a tirade against illegal immigrants, the big crime story in Texas centered on a man who shot dead his wife, their infant daughter, and the wife’s grandparents, before killing himself.
His name was Randy Horn and he was not an immigrant.