A video depicting a fake Donald Trump shooting, stabbing and assaulting members of the media was shown at an event for his supporters at the US president’s resort in Miami, the New York Times reported late on Sunday.
High-profile figures linked to Trump had been scheduled to speak at the event, including former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and his son Donald Trump Jr, according to the Times, which has seen footage of the video.
Neither Sanders nor Trump Jr saw the video, the report said.
The video is said to feature Internet memes and the logo for Trump’s re-election campaign.
One clip shows the president’s head superimposed on the body of a gunman opening fire on the “Church of Fake News”, killing people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, the Washington Post and NBC TV, the Times said.
The Internet meme is taken from a scene in the 2014 spy comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service.
During the rampage, the Trump character strikes the late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.
He throws Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back and slams him against a wall.
CNN, which is frequently named in Trump’s tirades against what he calls “fake news”, and which is reportedly targeted in the video, released a statement condemning it.
“Sadly, this is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining – but it is by far and away the worst,” CNN said in a statement on Twitter.
It called the image “vile and horrific” and called on Trump to denounce the video.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) also called on Trump to denounce the meme.
“The WHCA is horrified by a video reportedly shown over the weekend at a political conference organised by the president’s supporters,” Jonathan Karl, president of the association, said in a statement. “All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the president’s political opponents.”
In 2017, Trump tweeted a similar spoof video that showed him body-slamming CNN at a wrestling match.
Concerns over violent attacks against journalists grew last year when a man shot and killed five people at a newspaper office in Maryland over a personal grudge against the publication.
The White House condemned the video yesterday.
“The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet.
The organiser of last week’s three-day “American Priority” event – which was held at the president’s Trump National Doral Miami resort – said the clip was part of a “meme exhibit”.
“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” Alex Phillips told the Times.
“At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church,” tweeted Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, adding: “This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”
Media organisations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.
At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news” and “enemy of the people”.
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