Trump shares video of protesters confronting reporter: ‘FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL’
President Trump shared a video of a local TV reporter being confronted by anti-shutdown protesters in Long Island, N.Y., who called him “fake news” and “the enemy of the people,” prompting journalists to come to the reporter’s defense on Friday night.
“FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL,” the president wrote, retweeting the videos from News 12 Long Island reporter Kevin Vesey.
“FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL!”https://t.co/5286zgRVWQ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
The viral videos, which have been viewed more than 9.8 million times, were recorded by Vesey on Thursday while he was covering a protest against stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
Vesey said demonstrators in the town of Commack were confronting him over his profession and were “repeatedly invading my personal space.” Many of the protesters were not wearing face masks or practicing social distancing.
Several protesters sported Trump campaign flags and apparel, while some visibly angry demonstrators used anti-media rhetoric frequently employed by the president.
According to a video taken at the event, several protesters referred to Vesey as “fake news” and one person shouted, “You are the enemy of the people!”
“You’re disgusting. You are the virus!” another said.
“Traitor!” someone else could be heard saying.
In his final report, Vesey vowed to continue to report in an “unbiased way” despite the treatment.
“The level of anger directed at the media from these protesters was alarming. As always, I will tell a fair and unbiased story today,” he said.
I’ll probably never forget what happened today.
I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic.
All the while, I was there to tell THEIR story. Here’s the finished product. pic.twitter.com/HV2Hrcs7gi
— Kevin Vesey (@KevinVesey) May 14, 2020
Vesey responded to Trump’s retweet of his video by writing, “And just like that, I’ve been tweeted by the President.”
And just like that, I’ve been tweeted by the President https://t.co/LnDLRwrAZx
— Kevin Vesey (@KevinVesey) May 16, 2020
Several reporters took to Twitter to defend Vesey after Trump’s retweet, accusing the president of “bullying a civilian.”
“It’s discouraging enough to watch the tape of these knuckledraggers harassing a reporter who’s just doing his job by covering their protest (and who produced an even-handed segment for his local newscast),” wrote Politico chief political correspondent Tim Alberta. “But to see the President pile on, bullying a civilian… it’s nauseating.”
It’s discouraging enough to watch the tape of these knuckledraggers harassing a reporter who’s just doing his job by covering their protest (and who produced an even-handed segment for his local newscast).
But to see the President pile on, bullying a civilian… it’s nauseating. https://t.co/XCdsqwAqqO
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) May 16, 2020
CNN’s Jake Tapper called Trump’s tweet “indecent” and “vile,” noting that the president was spending his time highlighting a confrontation with a local news reporter as the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 87,000 people in the U.S.
87,000 Americans dead, 1.3 million infected, and the president is attacking a local TV news reporter who was trying to do his job and cover a protest. Indecent, vile. https://t.co/fPBfz0MWak
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 16, 2020
New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman wrote, “Good thing the president is trying to calm down the misplaced ang-.”
Good thing the president is trying to calm down the misplaced ang- https://t.co/Bzz9KulZkQ
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 16, 2020