Media Refuse to Blame Anti-Trump Protesters for Violence at Rallies
Anti-Trump protesters launched violent attacks on supporters of President Donald Trump at rallies across California on Saturday, but the media uniformly downplayed their role.
In headlines reporting the violence, media outlets either seemed to blame the Trump supporters for the violence, or used passive language that made the violence seem to have erupted as a natural consequence of the events.
Ironically, the text of the actual articles often made clear that anti-Trump protesters were to blame, but the headlines — which create a stronger impression, and are all that a casual reader may notice — uniformly refused to place blame where it belonged. Instead of “Anti-Trump protesters attack peaceful pro-Trump rally,” or some variant thereof, readers in California saw to the following:
LAist.com: “Pro-Trump Rally in Huntington Beach Turns Violent”
A pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach Saturday morning erupted in violence, according to the LA Times. A man protesting the rally pepper sprayed a female organizer of the rally, after which other pro-Trump supporters tackled and punched him. Video of the fight shows the counter-protestor getting assaulted and running from pro-Trump supporters. Members of the rally followed him and other counter protestors with chants of “USA,” “America First,” and cries for them to “get out.” The counter protestor eventually fled and ran along Pacific Coast Highway before getting detained by California Highway Patrol officers. The other counter-protestors fled the scene.
Los Angeles Times: “Violence erupts at pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach Trump Rally”
Violence erupted at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach on Saturday after a protester opposed to President Trump allegedly doused a female organizer of the event with pepper spray, sparking a brawl that ended with several arrests.
A group of flag-waving Trump supporters tackled the man with the pepper spray, who was wearing a black mask, and started punching and kicking him, according to witnesses. Several other fights also broke out between demonstrators.
The Bee reprinted the Times article, adding the detail about arrests to the headline — without, of course, indicating who had been arrested.
Los Angeles Daily News: “Fight breaks out at Pro-Trump Hollywood MAGA rally; 2 arrested”
A fistfight broke out along the sidewalk when a man grabbed a Trump supporter’s hat. Los Angeles police on bikes arrested two men for possible assault.
But instead of being met by an expected counterdemonstration and potential violence, marchers were met by mostly sidewalk sneers and jeers in largely Democratic Los Angeles.
Orange County Register: “Pro-Trump rally draws 2,000 marchers, some protesters and a violent brawl”
As the marchers, many in MAGA hats or carrying American flags, walked down the bike path from Pacific Coast Highway and Warner Avenue, about a dozen protesters wearing black masks formed a wall blocking them.
The situation got ugly and lasted for about a half hour; after much yelling, shoving, pushing and punching, some protesters pepper-sprayed a group of marchers.
Four protesters were arrested, California State Parks Police Capt. Kevin Pearsall said.
A pro-Trump rally in Sacramento proceeded without incident.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump supporters were routinely blamed for violence at rallies, even when they were the victims. The Democratic mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, blamed Trump for an anti-Trump riot on the streets around a Trump rally last June, in which Trump supporters were chased, beaten, and bloodied.
Elsewhere, Democratic operatives intentionally instigated violence at pro-Trump rallies with the specific goal of attracting media attention and creating a sense of “anarchy” around the candidate.