The President Says He “Can’t Get Enough” of His Supporters Harassing the Press

How one local TV station’s “alarming” footage made Trump proud.

Albiin Lohr-Jones/Sipa via AP

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On Thursday, Kevin Vesey, a TV reporter for News12 Long Island, visited a local protest against the remaining restrictions put in place by New York to stem the spread of the coronavirus, filing a studiously restrained segment for broadcast.

But on Twitter, he decided to share a small piece of raw footage showing how he was harassed by the demonstrators as he went about his job of capturing their demands and relaying them to a wider audience. The footage circulated widely among journalists on Thursday and Friday, often accompanied by laments about the protesters’ targeting of Vesey. In under a minute, the video captures him being called “traitor,” “hack,” “disgusting,””the enemy of the people,” and, inevitably, “fake news.” All are, of course, phrases President Donald Trump has deployed against journalists who cover his administration.

On Friday night, the President himself retweeted the video, mimicking a chant the protestors had shouted: “Fake news is nonessential.” On Saturday morning, he retweeted it again, endorsing his supporters’ harassment by calling them “great people” and claiming that “people can’t get enough of this.” 

Vesey shared the footage with his Twitter followers because it made him alarmed. Trump shared the footage with his Twitter followers because it made him proud. 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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