UPDATED, with SAG-AFTRA reaction: The BBC has requested a White House review of security arrangements at Donald Trump rallies following an incident in El Paso on Monday in which a BBC camera operator was shoved hard enough to capture the president’s attention from the stage.
“President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people – including members of the press,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement this afternoon. “We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.”
“You all right?,” Trump can be heard asking reporters at the rally in video below, posted on Twitter today by reporter Jacob Rascon of Houston’s KPRC.
Shouting “f*ck the media,” the Trump supporter at last night’s rally blindsided BBC camera operator Ron Skeans with two hard shoves, Skeans says. In the video, a man wearing a MAGA hat, shouting obscenities, is restrained by another man, later identified as a Frontline America reporter. The attacker was eventually removed from the rally by security.
The BBC condemned the attack and has contacted White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, “asking for a review of security arrangements for the media attending the president’s rallies following the attack.”
According to Paul Danaher, BBC’s Americas Bureau Editor, “Access into the media area was unsupervised. No one in law enforcement intervened before, during or after the attack.”
“It is clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job,” the BBC said in a statement Tuesday.
Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer for Trump’s campaign team Trump for President, said in a statement, “An individual involved in a physical altercation with a news cameraman was removed from last night’s rally. We appreciate the swift action from venue security and law enforcement officers.”
White House reporters are calling for a direct response from Trump. “The White House Correspondents’ Association condemns the physical attack on our colleague at the president’s rally in El Paso, Texas,” said WHCA president Olivier Knox in a statement. “We are relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt. The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.”
“This is the shameful moment when my cameraman Ron Skeans was attacked at an @realDonaldTrump rally in El Paso last night,” tweeted BBC Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue. “warning this video contains strong language. Happily Ron is fine. #TrumpElPaso”.
Eleanor Montague, BBC Washington producer, was also in attendance at the rally, and tweeted, “Just attended my first @realDonaldTrump rally where my colleague BBC cameraman Rob Skeans was attacked by a Trump supporter. The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night #TrumpElPaso”.
Skeans told the BBC that the shover pushed him twice, almost knocking his camera over before being restrained by “a blogger.” The BBC reported that Trump “checked they were well with a thumbs up, and continued his speech after Mr Skeans returned the gesture.”
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Skeans told the BBC, describing the push as a “very hard shove.”
Montague said that the shover attacked other news crews but that Skeans “got the brunt of it.” The BBC team was later told by a campaign official that the “attacker was drunk.”
“This is a constant feature of these rallies,” O’Donoghue said on BBC radio this morning, “a goading of the crowds against the media.”
Later on Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA also condemned the action. “SAG-AFTRA continues to be concerned with the growing number of violent acts against journalists,” the actors union said. “The attack on the BBC cameraman in El Paso, Texas, yesterday should be condemned by anyone who values the critical role of journalists in our democracy.”