With “poison coursing through the US body politic” Jill Abramson says some of the violence had been endorsed by the president. She cites Trump praising GOP Rep Gianforte slamming a journalist to the ground, inviting supporters to beat up protestors, and continuing to label journalists as “enemies of the people” after the Khashoggi murder and the Boston Globe attack as examples of how Trump can’t help himself. âThe president needs to recognize the terrible recklessness of his own rhetoric.
- Has violence moved from the fringes to the mainstream since 2016?
- If Trump does apologize for his rhetoric, will it reduce violence?
- Is political violence a new normal in the US even after the Trump presidency?
This week, pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats including George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. CNN also received one in the mail. Sadly, none of this was really that shocking. The news had an air of inevitability, being the culmination of what has been a hideously violent time in our political culture. Poison is coursing through the US body politic. Violence permeates political dialogue and sometimes erupts at political events.
At a rally last week in Missoula, Montana, President Trump celebrated the Republican representative Greg Gianforte, who violently attacked the Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last year. Jacobs, who was simply trying to ask a question about healthcare, was body-slammed and hurt by Gianforte, who won election to the House but later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. At the rally last Thursday, Trump cheered the congressman as a “tough cookie”, and roused his supporters by loudly proclaiming: “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”
Trump has repeatedly invited his supporters to beat up protesters at his rallies, implying that the protesters bring this on themselves by disrupting him.
Neither the fatal shootings at a newspaper in Maryland nor the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul have discouraged the president from blasting journalists as “enemies of the people”. At a CNN forum on Monday, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times talked about her children sobbing because they are so scared for her and their own safety because of the vitriol and threats that are flung at reporters covering Trump rallies. Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, the Times’s publisher, took on the admirable task of warning Trump during a White House meeting that his verbal savaging of journalists would, inevitably, lead to something terrible happening. But the president has not heeded him.