Leaders of the WGA East, which represent thousands of news writers and producers, condemned comments made Tuesday by President Donald Trump when he told a cheering crowd at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh that he was happy to have seen police rough up a journalist. Police in Minneapolis, he said, had thrown aside a reporter “like he was a little bag of popcorn,” which Trump called “a beautiful sight.”
Trump was talking about an incident in May when MSNBC’s Ali Velshi was covering a protest over the death of George Floyd and was hit by a rubber bullet fired by police. The president had called him a “CNN” reporter and said Velshi was hit with “a canister of tear gas.”
“Yesterday, President Trump praised violence against journalists, saying it was ‘actually a beautiful sight’ when police officers and others physically attack journalists doing their jobs, observing and reporting the news,” said WGA East president Beau Willimon and executive director Lowell Petersen.
“It is common for Presidents and other politicians to complain about how they are covered by the press; it is not a journalist’s job to curry favor with the powerful,” they said. “It is far beyond the pale for a President to condone violence against journalists. The Writers Guild of America, East, which represents thousands of members working in news media, condemns all attacks on journalists – verbal and physical – including those issued by the President of the United States.”