BBC cameraman ‘violently pushed and shoved’ during Trump rally
BBC’s Americas Bureau Chief has contacted the White House press secretary for a full review of security arrangements
A BBC boss has called on the White House to review its security arrangements after a BBC cameraman was attacked during a speech by Donald Trump.
Paul Danahar, the corporation’s Americas bureau chief, said security failed to intervene when cameraman Ron Skeans was shoved by a Trump supporter in what has been described as “an incredibly violent attack”.
Mr Danahar contacted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders for a full review of security arrangements for the media, adding that access to the media area was unsupervised.
I’ve written to @PressSec asking for a full review of security arrangements for the media after last night’s attack on our BBC cameraman at the President's rally. Access into the media area was unsupervised. No one in law enforcement intervened before, during or after the attack.— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) February 12, 2019
In a Twitter post, Mr Danahar wrote: “I’ve written to @PressSec asking for a full review of security arrangements for the media after last night’s attack on our BBC cameraman at the President’s rally. Access into the media area was unsupervised. No one in law enforcement intervened before, during or after the attack.”
Sarah Sanders responded that the president “condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press”.
She added: “We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.”
Eleanor Montague, the Washington news editor for the BBC, tweeted that the crowd “had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media” by the president and other speakers.
Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue, who is blind, said his colleague Mr Skeans had been filming a rally in El Paso, Texas, when the incident happened.
Describing what unfolded, he said a supporter of Mr Trump got on to the reporters’ platform and pushed the camera into his colleague, before continuing to push Mr Skeans.
The experienced cameraman told the BBC that he was caught unawares by a “very hard shove”, adding: “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Mr O’Donoghue told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was an incredibly violent attack. Fortunately our cameraman is fine, he is made of stern stuff.”
Footage captured from Mr Skeans’s camera was posted to Twitter by Mr O’Donoghue and shows the shot focused on Mr Trump before jolting away.
As the camera appears to visibly bounce around for about 10 seconds, the screen then focuses on a man in a red cap who is swearing and being restrained by another man.
The man was removed by security and Ron is fine. The president could see the incident and checked with us that all was OK BBC spokeswoman
A BBC spokeswoman said Mr Skeans was “violently pushed and shoved by a member of the crowd” as he covered the rally.
“The man was removed by security and Ron is fine. The president could see the incident and checked with us that all was OK,” she said.
“It is clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job.”
Mr O’Donoghue said the goading of the crowds against the media is a “constant feature of these rallies”.
“I have been spat at before, they hurl abuse at American colleagues in particular,” he added.
The American president has a strained relationship with the media, and has often branded reporting as “fake news” and stated that journalists are “the true enemy of the people”.
There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018
During his speech on Monday, Mr Trump told the crowds inside El Paso County Coliseum that 69,000 people had signed up to attend.
“The arena holds 8,000 and thank you fire department, they got in about 10 (thousand),” he said.
“But if you really want to see something, go outside.
“Tens of thousands of people are watching screens outside.”
But according to reports, a spokesman for El Paso fire department said the president’s claim was incorrect, and that 6,500 people were allowed inside – the building’s capacity.