VIDEO: ‘Donald Trump Builds a Wall,’ a mash-up of Donald Trump and a scene from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.’
Just as he seems poised to lock up the Republican nomination next week, reality TV star Donald Trump is already turning on the conservative forces which elevated him. And as his campaign rallies descend into violence, the mob boss that always lurked under Trump’s thin skin becomes visible.
As I keep saying, this is the real Donald Trump; we are seeing him at last.
The level of violence at Trump events had been rising for months before Wednesday, when 78-year old John McGraw, who was attending a rally in Fayetteville, NC, threw an elbow into the face of 26 year-old protester Rakeem Jones as he was being escorted out. McGraw proudly told the TV show Inside Edition that he had enjoyed “Knocking the hell out of that big mouth,” opined that Jones “might be with a terrorist organization,” and said his victim “deserved” violence. “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
Seldom has the voice of paranoid populist authoritarianism been so plainly-heard in American politics.
McGraw has since been arrested for assault, but this morning Trump told a press conference that “we need a little bit more of” rally-goers punching protesters. Absurdly claiming that people who disagree with his message are the ones committing acts of violence, Trump’s bullying is sure to further ratchet up his supporters. How long until they are committing hate crimes?
Crystallizing this moment in American politics, Trump even turned on Breitbart.com this week after his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski roughed up their reporter.
Until now, Trump has reputedly enjoyed a payola arrangement with the right wing outlet and received fawning coverage from its staff. The relationship bore fruit when Trump promulgated his extremist immigration plan on the website, whose executive director and staff have cultivated many powerful partnerships in conservative political scenes.
While attending a Trump primary victory party in Jupiter, FL Tuesday night, Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields says that Lewandowski grabbed her arm and yanked her back as she tried to ask the candidate a question, leaving bruises.
Going straight to the misogynist playbook, Lewandowski and the Trump campaign immediately denied the story and tried to frame Fields as an attention-seeker. Trump himself has said he thinks she is “making it up.” Responding, Fields posted a photo of her injuries to Twitter.
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 10, 2016
She has since filed a criminal complaint.
The allegations have been seconded by other reporters. Politico.com has published an audio clip and transcript which support her allegation. Witnessing the incident, Ben Terris of the Washington Post confirmed the details, including Leandowski’s identity, and recounted her words immediately after.
“I’m just a little spooked,” she said, a tear streaming down her face. “No one has grabbed me like that before.”
She took my arm and squeezed it hard. “I don’t even want to do it as hard as he did,” she said, “because it would hurt.”
Much like TIME photojournalist Chris Morris, who was grabbed in a choke-hold and thrown hard onto a table by a Secret Service agent, Fields immediately attempted to reenact the assault. Of course, Breitbart used an image of Morris complaining of his mistreatment to suggest the seasoned reporter ‘deserved’ the violence, placing it out of sequence to make him look like the aggressor.
Indeed, as a news organization Breitbart has been unable to set aside their mendacious habits, even with their own reporter being the injured party. In a typically-weak kneed statement, CEO Larry Solov agreed that Lewandowski “owes Michelle an immediate apology” — but only “If that’s the case” that she is telling the truth.
Breitbart apparently also told the Trump campaign that Terris had witnessed the assault, preventing him from asking Lewandowski about it in an interview scheduled for the next day.
Reportedly, Lewandowski later exchanged text messages with Breitbart’s Washington political editor Matthew Boyle, who has been a sort of concierge to Trump at the website. Without admitting anything, the campaign manager said that he had not known who Fields was and mistook her for a member of the “mainstream media.”
The infighting is still not finished at Breitbart. Reporter Patrick Howley, who has a well-developed resume of smears and hit-pieces, questioned Fields’s veracity in a series of tweets that have since been deleted. Howley has also been suspended for treating a co-worker like one of his liberal targets.
Was sent this screen grab of a Breitbart reporters tweets that appear to have been deleted pic.twitter.com/LGuYqrQwmW
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) March 10, 2016
When Fields’s boyfriend Jamie Weinstein, senior editor for the Daily Caller, tweeted that Trump “always surrounds himself with thugs” and vigorously defended her from attacks, Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella reportedly pressured Fields to quiet him down.
In other words, this is the real Breitbart News — which we have always seen here at BU.
The controversy comes only days after Trump skipped the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, signalling that he doesn’t care whether the leaders of the conservative movement approve of his candidacy.
While for liberals there is a certain sense of Schadenfreude in seeing Trump disdain the craven institutions which raised him this high — “It’s like watching Napoleon and Squealer turn on Snowball in Animal Farm,” a Facebook acquaintance quipped — there’s nothing good or satisfying about Trump’s campaign events devolving into physical confrontations.
Trump has outspokenly encouraged his supporters towards violence against both protesters and the press. How long until he gets someone killed and Breitbart posts excuses on his behalf?