The BBC has asked the White House to review the security in place for media attending presidential rallies after a supporter of President Donald Trump attacked a cameraman Monday during an event in El Paso, Texas.
BBC editor Paul Danahar wrote a letter to the White House requesting the review on Tuesday, after an unidentified Trump supporter stormed the rally’s press platform Monday night and attacked BBC cameraman Ron Skeans.
Danahar’s letter said the press area “was unsupervised and that no member of law enforcement or security stopped the attacker entering, intervened when he began his attack or followed up on the incident with our colleagues afterwards,” according to the BBC.
CNN reported that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement Tuesday saying Trump “condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people ― including members of the press. We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.” The statement asked people to direct all questions of security to the Trump campaign.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says in a statement, "President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people – including members of the press. We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner"
— Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN) February 12, 2019
The BBC said the Trump supporter, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, almost knocked over Skeans and his camera twice while shoving him and yelling “fuck the media.” Another member of the media wrestled the man off Skeans before security eventually escorted him away. BBC Washington Correspondent Gary O’Donoghue tweeted footage of the altercation.
This is the shameful moment when my cameraman Ron Skeans was attacked at an @realDonaldTrump rally in El Paso last night – warning this video contains strong language. Happily Ron is fine. #TrumpElPaso pic.twitter.com/Ay5DYT6gjP
— Gary O'Donoghue (@BBCBlindGazza) February 12, 2019
Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer for Trump for President Inc., addressed the altercation Tuesday by thanking security officers.
“We appreciate the swift action from venue security and law enforcement officers,” he said, according to NBC.
Trump saw the attack during his speech and said, “You all right? Everything OK?” while giving a thumbs-up to check on the altercation. He then returned to his speech, which was littered with media bashing as is a tradition for his rallies.
Several organizations advocating for the press have released statements condemning the attack and calling on Trump to stop his dangerous anti-press rhetoric.
This is outrageous! We call on President @realDonaldTrump to moderate his rhetoric against the press and to state clearly that physically attacking media personnel is not acceptable.https://t.co/UYBRsPLTEO
— Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) February 12, 2019
RSF is deeply concerned by this physical attack against a @BBC cameraman at a Trump rally. As we continue to look into what happened, we firmly denounce all physical violence against reporters for doing their jobs. This is unacceptable in the country of the First Amendment. https://t.co/tPLHZH0Wu5
— RSF in English (@RSF_en) February 12, 2019
Statement on attack on journalist at president’s rally. pic.twitter.com/cdyMl9C2NO
— WHCA (@whca) February 12, 2019
“We are relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt,” wrote Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized the media, calling journalists “enemies of the people.” Last August, United Nations human rights leaders said the president’s repeated attacks undermine press freedom and raise the risk of violence against journalists.