Last week, the pro-Trump group American Priority held a three-day conference at one of the president's hotels, the Trump National Doral Miami, with prominent attendees including Donald Trump Jr., former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Florida representative and Trump ally Matt Gaetz. During that conference, the hosts screened a video that heavily edited a violent church massacre in the 2014 movie Kingsman, tweaked to look like Donald Trump himself was brutally executing both media companies and political opponents. The video was first posted online a year ago, and The New York Times confirmed that it was screened at the conference. The Times describes the scene:
He shoots Black Lives Matter in the head, and also shoots Vice News. Some of those in the church try to apprehend Mr. Trump. He fends them off and makes his way toward the altar, knocking over several pews. He wrestles a parishioner with a Vice News logo as a face to the ground and then shoots the person at point blank range. In the background, the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, is seen trying to get away. From there, Mr. Trump attacks a range of his critics. He strikes the late Arizona senator John McCain in the back of the neck. He hits the television personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face and then stabs her in the head. He strikes Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. He lights the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential rival, on fire.
From there Trump goes on to fight and kill Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, Utah senator Mitt Romney, and Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and one of the central figures in the impeachment investigation against Trump. The clip ends with the president putting a stake through a person with the CNN logo for a head.
Both Trump Jr. and Sanders claim they didn't see the video at the conference, and Sanders told the Times that she doesn't condone violence. Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the president hasn't seen it yet, "but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video." But the media is one of Trump's favorite targets—he frequently calls reporters "the enemy of the American people," and, as he told Lesley Stahl last year, labels stories he doesn't like "fake news" in order to discredit them. Trump has also shared similarly doctored videos before, retweeting a meme of him attacking CNN.
The reporters covering Trump's rallies are frequent targets at those events. At a recent rally in Orlando, each time he mentioned "fake news," he gestured toward the journalists present, encouraging the crowd to boo and jeer at them, according to The New York Times. Trump praised Montana congressman Greg Gianforte, who assaulted a reporter the day he was elected. At a campaign rally in 2018, Trump said, "Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my guy." And at a rally in Texas earlier this year, a Trump supporter assaulted a BBC reporter while yelling, "Fuck the media," shortly after Trump ranted about journalists.
In fact, many of the targets in the doctored video—Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, CNN—were also targets of Cesar Sayoc, the Trump supporter arrested for mailing bombs to a long list of the president's opponents in October of 2018. Since Trump took office, the U.S. has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders. Last year also saw the deadliest mass shooting at a newspaper in U.S. history, when a man killed five people at the Capital Gazette in Maryland.
In response to the Kingsman video, Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Inquirer shared photos of the new security measures the paper has had to make in the wake of rising threats and attacks against journalists.
Adam Serwer, a staff writer for The Atlantic, pointed out just how unremarkable such violent videos were among online conservatives: "The Trump video is really just an expression of how common it is on the right to publicly express fantasies about mass murdering their countrymen, in between complaining about civility and the lack of respect liberals show them."
No one seems to be taking credit for screening the video yet. The conference organizer, Alex Phillips, told the Times that it was simply part of a "meme exhibit" and added, "American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review."
On March 15, when a white supremacist livestreamed his mass shootings of a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, a country with one of the world's lowest gun homicide rates was stunned to silence. But only momentarily. The deaths of 51 New Zealanders, mostly Muslim immigrants, would not be met with a tepid countermeasure but a swift, clear response. Sean Flynn reports from Christchurch about the day of the massacre—and the days that followed.
Originally Appeared on GQ