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Ron Skeans, a BBC cameraman, was attacked at a Donald Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, by a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Speaking to the BBC, Skeans said he received a “very hard shove” from his blindside. Skeans said, “I didn’t know what was going on.”
At the time of the incident, President Trump gave Skeans a thumbs-up gesture and said, “You all right? Everything OK? OK, thank you” after he noticed the commotion. The president has repeatedly insulted the media at rallies, on Twitter and during press conferences. Trump has referred to the media as “the enemy of the people” while also saying that the coverage of him and his administration has been “fake news.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Trump Campaign Official Has Suggested that the Attacker Was Drunk
A Trump campaign official suggested that Skeans’ attacker may have been drunk in a statement to the BBC. Video of the attack shows the man saying, “CNN sucks” and “F*** You!” as he his dragged away.
A BBC spokesman told the Guardian, “The man was removed by security and Ron is fine. The president could see the incident and checked with us that all was ok. It is clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job.” The Guardian article mentions that as the man was being taken away, “some in the crowd” began to chant, “Let him go.”
2. Skeans’ Producer Called it an ‘Incredibly Violent Attack’
Skeans was accompanied by BBC’s Washington producer and correspondent, Eleanor Montague and Gary O’Donoghue. Montague told the network that Skeans “got the brunt” of the Trump supporters attack and that he was eventually wrestled away by a blogger who was nearby. Montague said, “It was an incredibly violent attack. Fortunately, our cameraman is fine, he is made of stern stuff.”
Gary O’Donoghue also told the BBC, “This is a constant feature of these rallies – a goading of the crowds against the media.” O’Donoghue went on to say that he has been “spat at” during previous Trump events. Prior to the attack, Trump said, “We have suffered a totally dishonest media and we’ve won and it’s driving them crazy, driving them crazy. It’s driving them crazy but look at them. They still come.”
3. Skeans Has Worked for the BBC for 25 Years
According to his LinkedIn page, Skeans has worked for the BBC since January 1994. He has been a cameraman and editor with the network since January 2003 and is based in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. Skeans is listed as a member of the White House News Photographers Association. On his Facebook page, Skeans says that he is from Dayton, Ohio and attended Meadowvale High School and the International School of Broadcasting.
4. Skeans Was on Scene at the Capital Gazette Shooting
In June 2018, Skeans was one of the first reported on the scene at the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis, Maryland. Jarrod Harris is alleged to have entered the newsroom and shot-and-killed five newspaper employees in a rage over a 2011 story about his alleged harassment of high school classmates. The Columbia Journalism Review attributed that attack, in part, to President Trump’s constant attacks on the media.
In the lead-up to the attack, Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos had texted reporters saying “can’t wait for vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” Yiannopoulos later said the text messages were intended as a joke.
5. Protesters Repeatedly Tried to Disrupt Trump’s El Paso Rally
The attack on Skeans was not the only disruption during Trump’s rally. During the event, various protesters interrupted proceedings. After one protester was removed, Trump said, “Where do these people come from? They go back to Mommy. They get punished when they get home.” Trump claimed that the local fire department had allowed 10,000 people into the 8,000 capacity venue. The Guardian, citing a local fire official, said that 6,500 people were inside the rally. Nearby, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke held a counter rally.