The White House on Monday, October 14, condemned a video depicting a fake President Donald Trump shooting and stabbing media figures and political opponents that was shown at a conference for his supporters. In the internet meme - taken from a scene in the 2014 spy comedy "Kingsman: The Secret Service" - the President's head is superimposed on a man opening fire on people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post and NBC TV.
"The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet. During the rampage inside the "Church of Fake News," the Trump character strikes the late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.
He throws Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back and slams him against a wall. The organizer of last week's three-day "American Priority" event -- which was held at the president's Trump National Doral Miami resort -- said the clip was part of a "meme exhibit." The New York Times reported that the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis were among the scheduled speakers.
"American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech," Alex Phillips told The New York Times.
CNN wrote on Twitter: "This is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining, but it is by far and away the worst." The network called on the White House to denounce the clip, saying "anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence." The White House Correspondents' Association also called on Trump to denounce the meme.
"At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church," tweeted Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke. The former Texas congressman noted that Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc was jailed last year for mailing crude bombs to CNN and prominent Democrats, while only two days ago a shooter opened fire on a wedding in a small-town church in New Hampshire. "This video isn't funny. It will get people killed," O'Rourke said. Media organizations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.
At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them "fake news" and "enemy of the people." Trump has previously tweeted a roughly edited video clip of him attacking a wrestler whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.