By Randy Hall ~
There’s no doubt that the current presidential campaign has been more antagonistic than previous contests for the White House, and as a result, one national news organization is taking action to train its correspondents in “hostile environment awareness.”
According to an article by Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi, the National Public Radio system has sent its political reporters to take part in a 90-minute training course that teaches employees how to handle outbreaks of violence at campaign stops in a system the reporter dubbed “Trump Training.”
Farhi noted: “Donald Trump’s campaign events have apparently become such a minefield for reporters” that the national radio system “has taken the extraordinary step of offering its correspondents a version of training for dealing with real minefields.”
“News organizations, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations generally employ such training to help employees respond to such hazards as riots, mortar attacks, kidnappings or firefights,” the reporter stated.
“Although there have been no mortar attacks,” he noted, “Trump’s campaign rallies are generally rowdy affairs in which violence has occasionally flared. The candidate canceled one of his rallies in Chicago this month out of concerns that protests against him had become too volatile.”
Three journalists have recently been roughed up while covering Trump, who has slammed reporters as “dishonest,” “troublemakers” and “scum” and sometimes even calls them out by name.
Farhi also reported: “At Trump’s rallies, he pens in the press like cattle. Any journalist who dares to wander beyond the metal barricades is tossed out.”
“And yet, the not-so-dirty little secret among reporters who cover Trump is this: It’s a kick to report on his campaign, a constant thrill ride,” he stated. “They love the beat, if not the beat-down.”
“He’s by far the biggest story of 2016,” stated Byron York, the Washington Examiner‘s chief political correspondent who has trailed Trump through eight states. “Other campaigns are more conventional. His events are bigger; the excitement levels are higher.”
“That’s not necessarily an endorsement of Trump’s politics,” the Post reporter cautioned. “It is a statement in behalf of the thing political journalists root for most — a good story.”
But “Trump arguably has inflamed violent behavior among his supporters by declining to disavow their behavior,” fellow Post reporter Michael E. Miller declared. “He has said he wanted to punch one protester ‘in the face’ after the man disrupted a campaign rally in Las Vegas.”
“Here’s a guy throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming at everything else, when we’re talking,” Trump told the crowd.
The GOP front-runner then declared:
The guards are very gentle with him. He’s walking out, like, big high-fives, smiling, laughing. I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.
“The incident was the latest in a string of controversial comments by Trump regarding protesters at his rallies,” Miller stated. “In November, after a Black Lives Matter protester was beaten and choked after disrupting a rally, Trump appeared to condone the rough treatment.”
“Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” he said on Fox News at the time.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Trump “has also suggested that riots could ensue if he is denied the nomination at the Republican convention despite securing the leading share of delegates,” the reporter noted.
“NPR wouldn’t discuss its training in detail, but Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news, confirmed that the radio and digital news organization has made it available to its reporters,” Farhi stated. He described it as training for “dangerous or possibly hostile environments.”
Meanwhile, “NPR appears to be alone in providing such training to its Trump reporters,” Farhi stated. “No other news organization, including the Washington Post, said it was undertaking similar training, according to a spot check.”
But Frank Smyth, executive director of Global Journalist Security, a firm that provides hostile-environment awareness training (HEAT), said some news organizations sought his company’s services last year after a disgruntled former employee of a TV station shot and killed a reporter and her cameraman at a Virginia resort.
Although no one has asked about Trump rallies specifically, Smyth said: “This violence is a serious concern, and it has the potential to escalate and develop a momentum of its own that could lead to serious injuries of journalists.”
While Trump certainly shares some of the blame due to his caustic remarks, it’s also possible that his political opponents — Republicans and Democrats — might see the violence as a way of taking the GOP front-runner down a few pegs. Perhaps they should take part in some of the “Trump Training” NPR is providing.
Randy Hall contributes Posts at the NewsBusters site.