At a rally in Minnesota on Friday, President Trump appeared to celebrate that an MSNBC anchor was hit by a rubber bullet while covering protests after the death of George Floyd in May, calling his unprovoked attack by police “a beautiful sight,” comments quickly condemned by journalists including CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“Absolutely heinous,” Tapper said on Twitter Saturday afternoon. “Ali Velshi didn’t deserve to be shot by a rubber bullet…and it’s twisted for anyone, least of all a president, to call it ‘law and order.’”
Absolutely heinous. @AliVelshi didn’t deserve to be shot by a rubber bullet, anyone celebrating that violence has something wrong with them, and it’s twisted for anyone least of all a president to call it “law and order.” No journalist should find this acceptable. https://t.co/1VDhdfoL1H
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 19, 2020
In his remarks, Trump mistakenly said of Velshi, “he got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas,” falsely describing Velshi falling to the ground while being ignored by law enforcement officers—a sight the president said was “beautiful. It’s called law and order.”
Velshi’s MSNBC colleagues Lawrence O’Donnell and Stephanie Ruhle both took to Twitter to condemn Trump’s disgusting words.
“The President of the United States is CHEERING & LYING about our friend & colleague Ali Velshi,” Ruhle said, “calling his injuries incurred while dong his job a beautiful sight.”
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) September 19, 2020
When journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered, Trump was friendly toward MBS.
When journalists criticize Trump, he calls them the enemy of the people.
When a journalist was hit with a rubber bullet in the US, Trump called it “beautiful.”
Can’t overstate the danger here. https://t.co/aS7AAqcilW
— Miranda Yaver (@mirandayaver) September 19, 2020
Velshi was reporting live in Minneapolis when police began firing rubber bullets and using tear gas against protesters at random, seemingly making no effort to avoid targeting journalists.
Velshi, who told MSNBC viewers that there had been “no provocation” before police began using force. “The police pulled into this intersection, right into the middle of the crowd.”
As video of the attack shows, Velshi was retreating—and warning other journalists to take cover—when he was hit by police.
Despite Trump falsely claiming that Velshi fell to the ground wailing “my leg, my leg,” no such thing actually happened. Many rally attendees cheered as the president described and celebrated the attack.
Velshi told viewers he’d been hit and appeared to lean against a parked car.
Former CNN host Piers Morgan joined those condemning the president’s words, calling it “disgusting” to celebrate the targeting of a journalist:
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 19, 2020