On Saturday presidential hopeful Donald Trump caused one of his requisite fusses after he tweeted a now-debunked video from a recent rally. The footage purportedly showed that a protester who had jumped a barrier was a supporter of so-called Islamic State (IS).
Then on Sunday morning US news presenter Chuck Todd asked Trump on his programme Meet the Press about the fake video, to which Trump replied, “I don’t know, all I know is what’s on the internet".
Trump had stated earlier that he believed the protester to be involved in a terrorist organisation. His tweet attempted to further that narrative.
“This was a guy that was looking to do harm,” Mr. Trump said in Kansas City, Missouri yesterday. “It was probably ISIS or ISIS-related, can you believe it?”
But when confronted this morning by Chuck Todd with the fact that he had tweeted a fake video, Trump basically admitted that as long as it’s on the internet, he feels absolutely no obligation to fact-check what he tweets to his 6.87 million followers.
Here’s a longer version of what Trump said to Chuck Todd:
TRUMP: He was playing Arabic music, he was dragging the flag along the ground, and he had internet chatter with ISIS, so I don’t know if he was or not, but all we did was put out what he had on his internet—dragging the flag, which I respect obviously more than you. He was dragging the American flag on the ground like it was a piece of garbage, okay? I don’t like that and a lot of people don’t like that. And he also had chatter about ISIS... or with ISIS, and you take a look at it. I mean, people are looking at it very seriously now, but you have to check it before you ask the question.
TODD: Well, we have checked it. That’s my point, sir. There’s no ties to ISIS for this man. No law enforcement official... and this video that you link to appears to be a hoax.
TRUMP: Okay, well, you just, look, was it a hoax that he’s dragging the flag? Was that him? It looks like the same man to me. He was dragging a flag along the ground, and he was playing a certain type of music, and supposedly there was chatter about ISIS. Now, I don’t know, what do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the internet. And I don’t like to see a man dragging an American flag along the ground in a mocking fashion.
The video of the protester, Thomas Dimassimo, dragging an American flag on the ground was indeed real and part of an unrelated protest in April of 2015. The original video was posted by Dimassimo himself. However, The video that Trump tweeted was spliced together by an unknown editor with “Arabic music” as Trump puts it, and was intended to troll the protester.
The alleged ISIS video also includes a description written entirely in Arabic. The Arabic is badly garbled, but appears to say “Tommy D” was trying to look “cool” and as if he has big balls for standing on an American flag.
The alleged ISIS video appears to have been posted to YouTube last May by someone named Thomas Jenners, whose account has since been deleted, then taken down Saturday. But the personal insults directed at Dimassimo are uncharacteristic of ISIS media. It was also posted to Facebook, but has since been deleted.
Mashable has a Vine of his statement:
Protests at Trump rallies have really hit a tipping point, with large numbers of people in Chicago and Kansas City turning out to denounce what they see as a very real fascist threat to America should Trump become president.
Last week a Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester in North Carolina. The attacker would later say that perhaps the protester should’ve been killed. Trump has flatly said that he doesn’t accept responsibility for the violence at his rallies, but has suggested that he’ll look into paying the legal fees of the attacker in North Carolina.
Trump said at a rally in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday that he would ruin the lives of protestors by pressing charges and deluging them with his legal team. “Their lives are going to be ruined, and they’ll know their lives are going to be ruined,” Trump said.
This kind of rhetoric, of course, doesn’t help the case that Trump isn’t a crypto-fascist who would quickly quash any kind of dissent should he take office.
Trump’s rallies are now filled with the kind of security you’d find at the airport, as you can see from this photo taken this morning in Bloomington, Illinois.
TSA and police inspect people entering a Trump rally in Bloomington, Illinois on Sunday morning (Associated Press)