New footage has surfaced from Monday’s incident of a U.S. Secret Service agent grasping a TIME photojournalist by the neck and slamming him down to the ground during a Donald Trump rally in Virginia Monday – showing the agent grabbing him from behind in the moments prior to the body slam.
Up until this footage was posted on WFXR’s Facebook page, all we had seen was a face-off between the two men showing photojournalist Christopher Morris saying “fuck you” to the Secret Service agent, who then said “what?” before grabbing him by the neck and slamming him down.
The agent then stood over him as Morris began kicking him away. Morris then stood up complaining about being grabbed by the neck, grabbing his own neck to demonstrate, then grabbing the agent’s neck to further demonstrate.
That demonstration led to both Sean Hannity and Breitbart to twist the story to say the photojournalist first grabbed the agent by the neck, which is what led to the agent body slamming him.
When confronted with evidence to the contrary, Breitbart updated its report to say the new videos show “the reporter intentionally bumping up against the agent and saying ‘f*ck you’ before the agent throws him to the ground.”
Then there was CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, who finished off his news report Monday evening by saying Morris had “provoked” the agent, perhaps because the photographer used profanity towards him, which numerous court cases have determined is protected speech, even if it’s directed towards law enforcement officers.
Or most likely because CBS CEO Les Moonves openly brags about how much he loves Trump and his ability to drive ratings, so it would not make good business sense to condemn the attack.
However, the new video, posted below, shows Morris did nothing to provoke the attack until he was grabbed from behind. And he did not intentionally bump into the agent because he was too busy trying to photograph a large group of Black Lives Matter protesters who had interrupted the rally by chanting and holding up their fists. He was essentially trying to do his job.
But the agent twisted him around to face him, which allowed Breitbart to fabricate the intentional bump. And that was when Morris told him off because no photographer likes to be grabbed from behind while trying to take a photo.
Morris admitted to stepping out of the penned-in area about 18 inches, which is what apparently prompted the agent to grab him from behind.
The false reports from Hannity and Breitbart led to hordes of commenters expressing ejaculatory adoration for the Secret Service agent, congratulation him on handling business in a professional and efficient manner by keeping the liberal media in line.
These are also the same authoritarian commenters who are celebrating Trump’s proposal to give “more authority” to police while stripping the media of its Constitutional protections to criticize him.
Many of those commenters went on CNN’s Facebook page to accuse them of twisting the story, one man even exaggerated the number of times Morris cursed at the agent. Others said the photographer had what was coming to him because he had stepped out of the penned-in media area where Trump requires reporters to be during his rallies, unlike the other candidates who allow reporters to walk freely throughout the rallies to allow them to photograph and interview attendees.
What many of these commenters fail to understand is that the Secret Service has one job and that job is to protect the candidates and their spouses. That’s it. And they make that very clear on their website.
Their job is not to enforce media regulations imposed by the candidate. Nor is it to remove attendees at the request of the candidate if those attendees show no indication to harm the candidate.
However, Monday evening after video of the confrontation was going viral, when Trump had traveled from Virginia to Georgia for another rally at Valdosta State University, a group of black students were ordered to leave the venue before Trump even took the stage.
The students said it was Secret Service agents ordering them out under the orders of Trump, but the Secret Service denied that allegation, saying it is not their job.
And a Trump spokesperson denied that Trump or anybody else on their team had the students removed.
But Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress said it was Trump’s private security team that had them removed, claiming the students were being disruptive, which he admitted he did not witness, but was information relayed to him from Trump’s team.
The students say they were sitting quietly at the top of the bleachers and were planning a “silent protest,” which would have stood out considering how raucous his crowds tend to get.
Video also shows uniformed police officers assisting with the removal of students.
According to USA Today:
Late Monday night, a Trump spokeswoman denied that the incident at Valdosta State University’s campus was initiated “at the request of the candidate” or the presidential campaign. A spokesman for the Secret Service contradicted the students’ statements that federal agents led them out of the building, saying Trump staff and local law enforcement officials were in charge of handling protesters.
Robert Hobak, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said agents were reportedly in the area where the Valdosta students were standing inside the venue, but they would have been simply monitoring. Escorting protesters out of rallies is “not our function,” he said. It’s up to the host committee, campaign staff and local law enforcement to handle, he said.
“This happens sometimes that people will confuse us with other law enforcement,” Hobak said Tuesday morning.
However, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress tried to clear up the confusion Tuesday morning, telling USA TODAY that he personally went to speak to the Trump campaign staff and the local law enforcement officers helping with security to confirm who ordered the students out, and to ask why.
“These folks were told the leave the PE complex by the Trump detail,” Childress said.
“What I resent is now some of these folks are going around saying it was a black issue. That’s total nonsense,” Childress said. “I personally asked why were these folks told to leave and the reason was: they were being disruptive. The Trump staff said they were using profanity. The F-bomb is one word that was used. You can’t be in there using profanity. That violates Georgia law.”
The one key statement from the above passage is from the Secret Service saying it is “not our function” to eject attendees, that their job is to simply monitor.
So it should not have been their function to enforce Trump’s strict guidelines that the media remain enclosed in their designated area, which the National Press Photographers Association refers to “another bald-faced attempt to control the media and the message, and limits meaningful press coverage of these events.”
That should be up to Trump’s private security guards. But those guys were probably ejecting the Black Lives Matter protesters who were disrupting Trump’s speech.
And considering Trump’s security team has a history of using physical violence on protesters, leading to at least one lawsuit, it was in the public’s interest to allow Morris to photograph these protesters and whatever altercation may occur with security guards.
Instead, it was the protesters who pulled out their cameras to record an armed government official attacking a veteran member of the press with White House press credentials, which ironically, are only handed out after the Secret Service conducts a full background check.
And if that’s what our country has become, then we should all be out there protesting.