Report: Internet meme showing Trump shooting media, political opponents shown at president's resort

Trump has consistently used criticism of the media to rile up his supporters, often referring to journalists as the “enemy of the people."

Outrage over fake video depicting Trump shooting media and critics

Oct. 14, 201900:45

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By Yuliya Talmazan and Monica Alba

A violent video showing a likeness of President Donald Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and political opponents prompted calls Monday for the White House to denounce the footage.

The video was screened at a three-day event held last week by a pro-Trump group called American Priority for the president's supporters at the Trump National Doral in Miami, The New York Times, which first obtained the footage, reported.

Among the scheduled speakers at the event were the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his former spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, according to the Times.

The video features a series of pro-Trump memes, the most violent of which shows Trump's head superimposed on the body of a man who opens fire inside the "Church of Fake News" on parishioners who have the faces of Trump's political opponents and logos of media organizations superimposed onto their bodies.

The targets include the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was often critical of Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is one of the president's potential 2020 rivals, along with former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump in 2016.

The Times reported that it appeared to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 film "Kingsman: The Secret Service."

A still from a video reportedly shown at an event at a resort owned by President Donald Trump.YouTube

A video matching the same description can be seen on YouTube and was uploaded in September 2018.

The Times said it obtained the video from an unnamed person who attended the conference and took a video of the clip on his phone.

In an emailed statement Monday to NBC News, a spokesperson for American Priority said, "It has come to our attention that an unauthorized video was shown in a side room at #AMPFest19," referring to the hashtag for the event.

"This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned by the #AMPFest19 organizers," the spokesperson said. "The organizers of #AMPFest19 were not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the New York Times."

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It is "shocking," the spokesperson added, that the Times report didn't mention any of the "sanctioned events," including a panel conversation "literally condemning political violence while claiming to be upset over a meme that was not sanctioned, shown on stage, or approved."

"#AMPFest19 always has and always will condemn political violence," the statement added.

A spokesman for Trump's campaign, Tim Murtaugh, told NBC News that they were unaware of the video.

"That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence," Murtaugh said.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted Monday that Trump "has not yet seen the video" and "will see it shortly."

Grisham added that "based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video."

Trump has consistently used criticism of the media to rile up his supporters, often referring to journalists as the "enemy of the people" and discrediting critical reports about him and his administration as "fake news."

Trump regularly criticizes media outlets in his tweets. And in 2018, his ongoing feud with CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, boiled over with the president verbally berating the journalist before the White House ultimately suspended his press access.

A lawsuit CNN filed against the Trump administration for revoking Acosta's press credentials mentioned a number of derogatory tweets and comments made by Trump about the network. The suit noted that Trump retweeted "a video depicting him tackling and punching a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his face, adding the comments '#FraudNewsCNN' and '#FNN.'"

This June 2, 2017 frame from video shows the Trump National Doral in Doral, Fla.Alex Sanz / AP

In the wake of the Times report Sunday, CNN released a statement saying, "Sadly, this is not the first time that supporters of the president have promoted violence against media in a video they apparently find entertaining — but it is by far and away the worst. The images depicted are vile and horrific."

The video has prompted a strong response from other organizations and news outlets.

The White House Correspondents' Association released a statement Sunday that it was "horrified" by the video.

"All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the president's political opponents," the association's president, Jonathan Karl, said.

The widow of a reporter who was one of the five people massacred last year at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, also condemned the video.

"My husband was targeted as a journalist and killed doing what he loved — reporting the news and keeping his community informed," said Andrea Chamblee, who is now a volunteer with the grassroots anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action. "Videos like the one shown at a political event for President Trump are not only offensive, but dangerous to the safety of my husband's fellow news media colleagues."

"It's disgusting that this kind of video would be used for political gain," Chamblee added.

Former Texas Rep. and Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke tweeted about the video, saying that "last year, a Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN — and a shooter entered a church yesterday. This video isn't funny. It will get people killed."

On Saturday, two people were shot and injured when a gunman opened fire during a wedding ceremony at a church in Pelham, New Hampshire.

"Every mother and father in America should watch video," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted. "Play it all the way to end. Know that this is the re-election message of your President. And then ask yourself — how you sit your kids down and tell them you want this person to lead us."