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Macabre fake Trump video shown at his resort

Clip depicts a false President shooting at members of the news media
US President Donald Trump in Washington on May 17, 2019.

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

Several of Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr, his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Sanders and a person close to Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference.

The video, which includes the logo for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of Internet memes. The most violent clip shows Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organisations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The disclosure that the video was played shows how Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda. Trump has made attacks on the news media a mainstay of his presidency, and he tweeted a similar — but far less violent video — in 2017.

In recent weeks as he has confronted impeachment proceedings, he has ramped up his attacks on the news media, repeatedly calling it the “enemy of the people”.

A person who attended the conference last week took a video of the clip on his phone and had an intermediary send it to a reporter for The Times. Parts of the video were posted on YouTube in 2018 by a user with a history of creating pro-Trump mash-ups.

The organiser of the event said in a statement on Sunday that the clip had been played at the conference, saying it was part of a “meme exhibit”. He denounced the video and said his organisation was looking into how it was shown at the event.

“Content was submitted by third parties and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity,” said the organiser, Alex Phillips. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review.”

Organisers declined to say exactly where at Trump’s resort the video was shown.

A person close to Trump’s son said he was unaware that the video had been played at the conference. Sanders said she was unaware of the video’s existence until a Times reporter contacted her.

“I was there to speak at a prayer breakfast, where I spoke about unity and bringing the country together,” Sanders said. “I wasn’t aware of any video, nor do I support violence of any kind against anyone.”

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign said he knew nothing about the video. “That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence,” said Tim Murtaugh, the spokesman.

The video depicts a scene inside the “Church of Fake News”, where parishioners rise as Trump — dressed in a black pinstripe suit — walks down the aisle. Many parishioners’ faces have been replaced with the logos of news media organisations, including PBS, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and NBC.


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