If a horribly violent and grotesque doctored video is played in a room and nobody is around to watch it, does it really make a sound? Well, if you are the New York Times trying to get whatever you can out of a pro-Trump conference to smear the president, then you are going to make sure that video makes as loud a sound as possible.
Late Sunday evening, the Times ran a story titled, "Macabre Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at His Resort." The article details a gory meme in video form apparently played at a pro-Trump conference a few weeks ago. It features President Trump shooting and killing church attendees meant to look like the news media and other leftist groups. The original video was from the movie "Kingsman: The Secret Service." The people in the video have CNN, PBS, MSNBC, Black Lives Matter, and more logos photoshopped on their head. The footage is sick, wicked, and entirely inappropriate. It is unclear whose decision it was to play the video at the conference hosted by American Priority, but it is obvious the video should not have seen the light of day. American Priority claimed the video was submitted by a third party, and the Trump 2020 campaign said they had no knowledge or control of any content featured at this event. Still, it was somebody's decision to allow the video to be in an official conference video package, so the hosts are not off the hook in this story.
But, the way the Times detailed the story made it seem as if this video was the central focus of the entire event. Conference goers deny this claim and have proof that this simply was not the case.
Here are snippets of the Times' story:
A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.
Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Ms. Sanders and a person close to Mr. Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied seeing the clip and stated she was unaware it even played.
“I was there to speak at a prayer breakfast, where I spoke about unity and bringing the country together,” Ms. Sanders said. “I wasn’t aware of any video, nor do I support violence of any kind against anyone.”
A spokesperson for the Trump 2020 campaign also condemned the video, saying, "That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence."
But still, the Times tried to make its readers think the video is associated with the campaign by saying that Trump has more or less encouraged this sort of rhetoric.
Throughout his 2016 campaign and presidency, Mr. Trump has sought to demonize the news media, partly out of frustration about the coverage of his administration and partly because he likes to have an opponent to target. Mr. Trump has also sought to undermine confidence in the mainstream media, some of his advisers acknowledge privately, to make people doubt the accuracy of less favorable accounts of what goes on in his administration.
But, conference attendees like Reason's CJ Ciaramella and NewsMax's John Cardillo say virtually nobody even saw this video because it was featured in a separate room that hardly anybody attended.
Here’s the room that video played in, for context https://t.co/bkm5ge3Xio— CJ Ciaramella (@cjciaramella) October 14, 2019
Point proven. The video was played in a big empty room, on one small TV, obscured by the main videos being projected.— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) October 14, 2019
It was not promoted and I can’t find a person who attended who saw the video.
Yet the video is the story the NYTimes ran about the conference. https://t.co/9GqKdD4rB9
Cardillo also condemned the video in its entirety, but emphasized how trivial this was in the grand scheme of things at the conference.
I find the video reprehensible and damaging to the conservative movement as it becomes the story.— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) October 14, 2019
That said, again, I was there for three days, at times walking by the room where the video played, and I had no idea it existed. Same with pretty much every other attendee I know. https://t.co/glSlJrJiCH
He also broke down why the Times piece painted a distorted video.
Yes, it was played. On one of 4 small TVs in an empty side room few people even knew about. It wasn’t promoted, nor did the vast majority see or even know about it.— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) October 14, 2019
Irresponsible for the NYTimes and you to omit those details and act like it was played on the main stage. https://t.co/TzFsBf9hPW
He also noted a strong of anti-Trump parodies that depict murder and harm towards Trump and his supporters as well.
We’ll apologize for a dumb meme video no one saw when the left apologizes for Kathy Griffin, Central Park plays depicting Trump’s assassination, Madonna threatening to blow up the WH, Eric Swalwell threatening to nuke gun owners, and Maxine Waters’ calls for violence.— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) October 14, 2019
But, as Jeryl Bier points out, the Times itself has also published fantasies of killing the president.
This video is absolutely asinine, creepy, evil and wrong.— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) October 14, 2019
Also, the @NYTimes published a fantasy last year about a Secret Service agent helping to assassinate @realDonaldTrump. https://t.co/cFMu9ntxH4 https://t.co/17m56CsqBZ pic.twitter.com/T7srQNm5Nz
For what it's worth, the White House itself has now condemned the video, which the president has not even seen yet:
So, was the video disturbing and bizarre? Yes, absolutely. Is it the death knell for our democratic republic? No, the video has actually been up for more than a year on Youtube. Should American Priorities have done better vetting of each exhibition? Yes, absolutely. But based on the evidence, the Times's attempt to associate this video with President Trump is a pretty big stretch.