The New York Times stoked Democratic fears of Trump-inspired political violence in Friday’s “Fears of Political Violence Rise as Trump’s Language Heats Up.”
Reporters Trip Gabriel, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, and Katie Benner shamelessly linked President Trump to acts of “right-wing” violence all over the country.
The arrest of more than a dozen right-wing extremists who are accused of targeting the governors of Michigan and Virginia is only the latest example of threats of violence, in some cases egged on by President Trump, that loom over the final weeks of a historically divisive race.
Kidnappings “egged on by President Trump”? That’s a serious allegation with no evidence. It’s a scurrilous link no Times reporter would dare level at, say, Democrat Bernie Sanders, even after one of his supporters shot at several Republican congressmen at a baseball field in Virginia in 2017.
In rural Iowa, Laura Hubka, the Democratic chair of Howard County, recently took out a concealed-carry gun permit after signs for Democratic candidates in her region were vandalized with bullet holes and she was personally threatened, she said.
With polls showing the president behind Mr. Biden nationally and in key states, Mr. Trump has descended into rants about perceived enemies, both inside and outside his administration, triggering in his staunchest supporters such fears for the outcome -- possibly a “stolen” election, maybe a coup by the far left -- that he is emboldening them to disrupt the voting process, according to national security experts and law enforcement officials.
The reporters mischaracterized the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings in Kenosha to make it the result of “violent messaging,” without considering the shootings may have been justified as self-defense, against men with undeniable violent criminal records.
The months of anti-police protests this summer sometimes turned to looting and arson, and [International Crisis Group president Robert] Malley said there were some armed extremists on the left. But he emphasized that the real concern came from the right, where violent messaging had already produced deadly results, including the shooting death of two people during protests in Kenosha, Wis. Mr. Malley said that in assessing the potential for further violence, “the balance very clearly tilts toward the responsibility of President Trump.”
After forwarding comments from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a reported kidnapping target, accusing Trump of providing “comfort and support” for the kidnappers with his words, the reporters brought out paranoia among Michigan Democrats as evidence that Trump is “fear-mongering about leftist violence,” while concepts like innocent until proven guilty and self-defense were seen as condoning right-wing violence:
Mr. Trump has made statements that seem to support the radical right. In August, he defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who has become something of a celebrity on the far right after he was charged with killing two people during the recent protests in Kenosha.
The reporters uncovered a chilling anecdote about Democrats being threatened with violence -- in 2019:
In Waushara County, a rural region outside Oshkosh, Wis., Mr. Stepanek, the Democratic chair, recalled that at last year’s county fair, while he was handing out balloons at the party’s booth to a group of young children, a man approached him and said, “If I had my gun right now, I’d shoot all of you.”
Speaking of nasty words and deeds…Friday’s edition also featured chief national correspondent Mark Leibovich’s hostile “epitaph” for President Trump’s reelection prospects: “White House Memo, “A Master of Last Words Utters Another Epitaph For a Flailing Campaign.”
After noting previous regrettable statements by presidents going back to George H.W. Bush, Leibovich made tasteless references to the White House battles with Covid.
The current outbreak in the White House has been accompanied by a video parade of “unfortunate remarks” -- or, depending on your point of view, a rampage of karma.
News of the current White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, testing positive last week was accompanied by a now-infamous clip from a Fox News interview Ms. McEnany gave in February. “We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here,” vowed the then-future press secretary. “Isn’t that refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?”
Likewise, when Kellyanne Conway, a former senior White House adviser, revealed her own coronavirus diagnosis, numerous news media outlets and Twitter feeds resurrected an oft-mocked statement she made about the still-emerging outbreak in March. “It is being contained….
Really? One can certainly criticize those overly sunny statements -- without suggesting the spokeswomen who caught the coronavirus had it coming.