Politics

Video meme of president killing foes shown during conference at Trump National Doral

A crude video meme depicting President Donald Trump gunning down political foes and media organizations inside a church has become the latest flash point in the president’s battles with the press after it was shown this weekend during a far-right conference held at Trump’s Doral resort.

The video — a clip edited to insert Trump’s likeness into a scene from 20th Century Fox’s 2014 movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service” — ran during the American Priority Festival held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Trump National Doral Miami. Listed conference speakers included Donald Trump Jr. and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The clip depicts President Trump inside the “Church of Fake News,” shooting, beating and stabbing congregants with the logos of Vox, Politico, CNN and other media outlets emblazoned over their faces. Wearing a black suit and wielding a handgun, he also shoots MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow and Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, and kills former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The massacre ends with Trump jamming a stake through a CNN logo.

The video was “unsanctioned,” according to conference founder Alex Phillips, and aired in a side room away from the ballroom where speakers addressed large audiences. It can be found on a YouTube channel alongside similar violent Hollywood adaptations in which Trump destroys his enemies.

“Sadly, 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,” CNN said in a statement issued through its public relations office. “The images depicted are vile and horrific.”

Trump’s fights with the press have continued throughout his presidency as mainstream media outlets have held the president accountable for repeated falsehoods and documented the details of multiple investigations into his actions as a candidate and president.

Trump has regularly attacked the press as “the enemy of the people,” and some Trump supporters have engaged in violence against reporters, including a South Florida man who last year sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN.

“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents,” Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents Association, said Monday in a statement. “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.”

Trump did not personally disavow the video Monday. But White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote on Twitter Monday morning that “based upon everything [Trump] has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”

Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, stressed that the video “was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence.”

The clip aired during a three-day conference that featured multiple speakers and sessions on topics ranging from illegal immigration to “the myth in global warming.” The schedule included book signings by Parkland parent Andrew Pollack and by former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was convicted last year of lying to the FBI during the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference. The event included a panel on “political violence.”

The Miami Herald was denied credentials to cover the conference. The airing of the video was first reported by The New York Times.

Phillips, founder of the American Priority conference, posted a statement Monday to the event’s website condemning political violence and expressing frustration with the amount of attention paid to the video.

“This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned by the #AMPfest19 organizers,” the statement said. “The organizers of #AMPfest19 were not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the NYT.”

The Trump Organization, which runs Trump National Doral, could not be reached.

DeSantis, who was listed as a speaker Friday evening, appeared at the conference and later that night at the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County’s Lincoln Day Dinner, a well-attended gala also held at Trump National Doral. But he ultimately did not give a speech at the conference, according to spokeswoman Helen Ferré.

“And he did not see any video,” she said.

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