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Video Of Fake Trump Attacking Media Is Widely Condemned

Oct 14, 2019
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The video is graphic and disturbing. It depicts a fake President Trump brutally assaulting his political adversaries and members of the media, and it was shown at a conference for the president's supporters last week at his resort in Miami. Conference organizers say the video was unauthorized, but it's drawn widespread condemnation from the media and beyond. Joining us now is NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Welcome back.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Good to join you.

CORNISH: Let's start with the video itself. Can you describe it in more detail?

FOLKENFLIK: It's horrific. You know, it evokes actual essentially catastrophes that have happened. You see a figure with Trump's face superimposed upon it as sort of an action figure - a hero, clearly - in a church, where there are people standing in pews, only superimposed over many of the faces are logos of many of the nation's most prominent news organizations, including, I might add, NPR, PBS, CNN, Huffington Post, Vox - just to name a few - as well as people who are among the most famous national leaders - the late John McCain, Mitt Romney from the Republicans; Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama - and this action figure, this Trump figure, is mowing them all down, killing them with a series of quite violent moves. It is carnage embodied.

And while it's, you know, clearly taken from an action movie - people believe it's one of the "Kingsman" films from 2014 - it's a deeply, deeply disturbing thing to witness and to watch and reminds us of things that have actually played out over the country.

CORNISH: And yet it was shown at this conference. Who was there? Why was it shown?

FOLKENFLIK: Yeah. It was shown at Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Fla., owned by the president - the Trump Organization. It's a pro-Trump conservative outfit called American Priority. It was at this conference. They confirmed that it was shown there - they say in a side room at the conference, not approved or sanctioned by the group. It's not clear how many people were there or under what auspices it was shown. But it was shown there at this event in support of the president at a property owned by the president - deeply, deeply upsetting.

CORNISH: Is there any indication there about who made it?

FOLKENFLIK: The New York Times broke this story. I talked also to a group at Storyful, which is an outfit that essentially does social media verification. And what they say is that although it's not proof, that they've confirmed that it was put out by a group called the Geekz Team and shared on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, including a pro-Trump subreddit like called The Donald, which has been quarantined, set aside. Storyful asked why YouTube was allowing that video to be monetized. Not proof they put it out - but nonetheless, this is a group that creates memes in favor of the president, in this case, quite a violent one.

CORNISH: How has the White House responded?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said earlier today the president hadn't seen it, that he intended to but that he abjured violence, that he abhorred it and that he condemned it. That said, I think it's worth pointing out that the president has retweeted essentially anti-media means, essentially a violent anti-CNN meme a couple of years back. He's encouraged, at times, violence against members of the media, although, in some ways later on, he's suggested that he's been joking.

Supporters of his have sent pipe bombs that have been intercepted directed at media outfits. And in fact, as many may recall, you know, a number of people were killed not in a political action, but nonetheless, in a newsroom in Annapolis Capital, one of them an old friend and colleague of mine. This is a time when many news organizations are already on heightened alert, concerned about security. This is a scary time. The president has not distanced himself from the thinking that perhaps could encourage violence along with the specific video that we're talking about today.

CORNISH: How are news organizations responding to a video that essentially shows journalists being gunned down?

FOLKENFLIK: I think you've seen a number of news leaders today reach out to those newsrooms and say that they take their security seriously, that they don't take this kind of rhetoric lightly. In CNN's case, for example, it was one of the news organizations depicted in the video. And its PR firm put out a statement not only calling on the president to decry this video but the very notion of violence against media itself. I think it's a sobering, serious moment. You've seen people up and down media outfits of all kinds say that this is inappropriate, and they're watching to see if the president will show leadership on this beyond responding to this specific video.

CORNISH: That's NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Thank you.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

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