Donald Trump is “cheerleading” violence against the media, an association representing White House correspondents said Friday after the president applauded an assault by a congressman on a reporter.
“All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job,” Olivier Knox, head of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement.
“This amounts to the celebration of a crime,” Knox said.
He was referring to a moment at a campaign rally in Montana on Thursday when Trump heaped praise on local congressman Greg Gianforte who used a wrestling move to slam a Guardian reporter on the floor in 2017.
“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy,” Trump told the rally about Gianforte, winning prolonged applause and laughter. “Don’t wrestle with him.”
Knox said: “We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media.”
Gianforte pleaded guilty to assault but avoided jail time.