At his rally Tuesday night, President Trump delivered an extended riff on the glories of police attacking journalists. First, he repeated a mangled version of a story that he told this weekend, about Ali Velshi being struck by a tear-gas canister while covering a rally, which he called “a beautiful sight.” (Velshi was actually hit by a rubber bullet.) The second version of the story including more details, in which Trump and his audience could delight in Velshi’s pain:
That idiot reporter from CNN [Velshi works for MSNBC] got hit on the CNN with a canister of tear gas, right? And he went down. ‘I’ve been hit, I’ve been hit.’ He’d been hit … but he went down and he didn’t like it, he was hit.
He then proceeded to regale his audience with a story of security forces removing a reporter from covering a protest:
They grabbed ’em. They were grabbing ’em left and right. Sometimes they grabbed, they grabbed one guy, ‘I’m a reporter! I’m a reporter!’ — ‘Get out of here!’ They threw him aside like a bag of popcorn. But honestly, when you watch the crap we’ve all had to take so long … when you see it, it’s actually a beautiful sight.
Two years ago, Trump praised Republican congressman Greg Gianforte for body-slamming reporter Ben Jacobs for asking about his position on the Republican health-care bill. Some of Trump’s supporters have picked up on his message: Later that year, Trump fan Cesar Sayoc sent bombs to Democrats and CNN.
It is fashionable for Republicans to dismiss Trump’s failings as mere style — too many tweets, not enough message discipline. Perhaps his personality could use a touch-up. “It’s no secret that in the suburbs and especially amongst women, that they’re simply turned off by Donald Trump. They have a personal dislike for him,” lamented Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who himself evinces no such qualms.
In fact, Trump is an aspirational authoritarian with a criminal’s contempt for legality, who believes the media and his opponents deserve to be beaten and imprisoned, and is inspiring and defending crazed violence among his supporters. He is a threat to the republic, and everyone who tolerates or minimizes him is irredeemably culpable.