The White House Correspondents’ Association condemned on Sunday a video that depicts a fake image of President Donald Trump slaughtering members of the news media, shown at a gathering of his supporters.
News of the video was first reported by The New York Times after someone who attended the gathering leaked a cell-phone video of it to the newspaper.
The video — which is an edited scene from the 2014 dark comedy “Kingsman: The Secret Service” — shows Trump’s head superimposed on the body of actor Colin Firth opening fire at a “Church of Fake News” with some parishioners faces replaced with logos of various news organizations.
The White House said Monday that Trump “strongly condemns” the video, but that he hadn’t yet seen it.
“The WHCA is horrified by a video reportedly shown over the weekend at a political conference organized by the president’s supporters,” Jonathan Karl, president of the association, said in a statement.
“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the president’s political opponents,” he said. “We have previously told the president his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.”
Other journalists and liberal commentators spoke out Sunday on Twitter. Many blamed Trump for encouraging such propaganda with his frequent criticism of the media and his political opponents. During his campaign for re-election, Trump has repeatedly called the media “the enemy of the people.”
CNN media analyst Brian Stelter declared: “Trump is responsible for a climate that is so hateful, so hostile toward journalists that it spawns videos like this one.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke deemed the video not funny, and warned: “It will get people killed.”
Comedian Kathy Griffin was among the non-media organizations killed by Trump in the video, along with former President Barack Obama, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and actress Rosie O’Donnell.
Griffin recalled the backlash she faced for posing with Trump’s fake severed head in a 2017 photo shoot and begged not to be “left hanging out to dry” again.
“No, this video isn’t a joke to his followers,” she said, referring to the president. “And it will not be taken as such.”
Im depicted as being murdered by The President of the United States in this video.The left, right & center left me hanging out to dry regarding the Trump mask photo. Please don’t let it happen again. No, this video isn’t a joke to his followers. And it will not be taken as such. https://t.co/uxikv4fAT0
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) October 14, 2019
Trump supporters react to the video of him killing the media
Reuters was unable to contact organizers of the event. But the political action group hosting the event, American Priority, said in a statement on Twitter that it had not been aware of the video and did not approve it.
“It has come to our attention that an unauthorized video was shown,” the group said, adding that the video had been shown in a “side room.”
“This video was not approved, seen or sanctioned by the … organizers.”
American Priority states on its website it supports free speech as protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign said he knew nothing about the video, the Times reported.
“That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence,” said Tim Murtaugh.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and a former spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference in Miami but the Times reported that neither had seen the video.
“I wasn’t aware of any video, nor do I support violence of any kind against anyone,” Sanders told the Times.
Event organizers, speaking to the Times, denounced the violence in the video and are investigating as to how it was shown.
“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review,” organizer Alex Phillips told the Times.
However, on Twitter, some Trump supporters brushed off the outcry over the video as liberal hysteria.
The Daily Caller’s Derek Hunter criticized “the media” for “wetting themselves,” and said of the reaction: “Pathetic.”
Twitter influencer Carpe Donktum joked that members of the press were really upset at having been depicted in church, calling it: “Devastating to their brand.” He shared a series of memes mocking journalists for allegedly advocating censorship by the political left.
One American News host Jack Posobiec without comment Monday shared an article headlined “15 Stars Who Imagined Violence Against Donald Trump, From Kathy Griffin to Pearl Jam.”
(Reporting by Rich McKay and Pluralist.)