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Sherrod Brown called on Trump to take responsibility for rhetoric that leads to violence.
Reporters have worried for months that Trump would get someone hurt by riling up supporters at his rallies with hatred for the press — and sure enough, a Trump supporter wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat physically assaulted a BBC cameraman during a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas.
That’s why, on Tuesday morning, Sen. Sherrod Brown called on Trump “to stop the encouraging of violence at these rallies” — and demanded that Trump do so publicly, on TV and not just on Twitter.
Brown made the comments at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor the morning after the El Paso rally. A reporter next to the cameraman said the crowd had been “whipped up into a frenzy against the media” by Trump and others at the rally.
“[Trump] should call off his supporters who are doing those kind of things,” Brown said. “Call them out and ask them to stop. We all are concerned there will be something worse happening at some time in the future.”
Trump’s rallies throughout the 2016 campaign were marred by violence, often at the explicit encouragement by Trump. Once, Trump even offered to pay the legal bills for those who assaulted others.
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell … I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise,” Trump said at a February 2016 rally in Iowa.
In the intervening years, Trump has moved on from encouraging violence against protesters to encouraging violence against the media.
In despotic fashion, Trump regularly attacks the free press as the “enemy of the people” and encourages hateful jeers towards members of the press who are covering his rallies.
Even after a gunman killed five people working for a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, Trump refused to stop using this dangerous rhetoric.
In the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, Trump even went so far as to praise a member of Congress who assaulted a journalist.
In 2018, the entire U.S. Senate condemned attacks against the press as “an attack on the democratic institutions of the United States.” Yet Trump barges ahead with his attacks, recklessly endangering the safety of journalists across the country.
While Trump tries to incite violence, Brown — who is married to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist — takes a different approach to journalists who cover him in his home state of Ohio: He thanks them.
At the event on Tuesday, Brown recalled telling a crowd that “journalists play an important role and are not enemies of the people. And the group as a whole, these people at a Democratic rally, turned around and gave a standing ovation to the journalists.”
Brown added that such support for a free press is not something you would ever see at a Trump rally.
In a healthy democracy, elected leaders do not incite violence against a free press — yet Trump repeatedly uses his hate-filled campaign rallies to do just that.