Donald Trump’s long history of comments critical of various journalists in the United States took a much more inflammatory tone on Saturday when he celebrated that an MSNBC journalist was shot by police with rubber bullets while covering a peaceful protest earlier this year.
During a rally on Saturday, Trump spoke positively about an incident where police fired rubber bullets at MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi while the host of Velshi was covering peaceful protests.
"He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas," President Trump says, of @AliVelshi, who was actually hit by a rubber bullet. "Wasn't it really a beautiful sight? It's called law and order." pic.twitter.com/sVvnZUft5B
— David Gura (@davidgura) September 19, 2020
“He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas,” Trump said, though it was actually a rubber bullet fired by police. “Wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? It’s called law and order.”
The incident, which happened in May, has come up during Trump rallies before. You can see the attack captured on video below.
Here's the video of when police fired tear gas on @AliVelshi's crew and when Velshi was hit with a rubber bullet back in May. As Velshi says during the live coverage, there was no provocation or warning. https://t.co/k12lW3BYmk
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) September 19, 2020
The comment drew cheers from the rally, but immediate condemnation online, especially from journalists and those working at MSNBC in particular. Velshi responded on Twitter on Saturday, asking what crimes he committed that deserved the “law and order” he’s describing.
So, @realDonaldTrump, you call my getting hit by authorities in Minneapolis on 5/30/20 (by a rubber bullet, btw, not a tear gas cannister) a “beautiful thing” called “law and order”. What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) September 19, 2020
Velshi also retweeted various criticisms of Trump’s comments and defenses of his own actions covering what was a peaceful protest before police opened fire. But perhaps the strongest words against Trump in this case came from Jake Tapper, who called Trump’s comments “absolutely heinous” and called on other journalists to condemn the president’s view on journalists covering peaceful protests.
Absolutely heinous. @AliVelshi didn’t deserve to be shot by a rubber bullet, anyone celebrating that violence has something wrong with them, and it’s twisted for anyone least of all a president to call it “law and order.” No journalist should find this acceptable. https://t.co/1VDhdfoL1H
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 19, 2020
“Anyone celebrating that violence has something wrong with them, and it’s twisted for anyone least of all a president to call it “law and order,”” Tapper wrote. “No journalist should find this acceptable.”
MSNBC also released a statement condemning Trump on Saturday, saying the president’s words “endangers thousands of other journalists and undermines their freedoms.