A graphic video featuring a fake President Donald Trump stabbing members of the news media and lighting the head of a political rival on fire was played at a conference for his supporters this weekend, according to a report Sunday by The New York Times.
The event, hosted by the group American Priority, took place at Trump’s resort in Miami, the Trump National Doral, and featured a litany of pro-Trump headliners, including former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
American Priority confirmed to the Times that the video was shown as part of a meme exhibit at the event, but organizers said they did not support the video and that third-parties were able to submit their own content.
American Priority did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. HuffPost has independently reviewed the footage, which circulated on Twitter Sunday evening, but has chosen not to link to it.
In the video — which features a modified clip from the 2014 film “Kingsman: The Secret Service” — a man with Trump’s superimposed face goes on a violent and bloody rampage inside what’s called the “Church of Fake News.”
The figure can be seen walking in the church as other people with logos over their heads from a bevy of news outlets — including PBS, NPR, HuffPost and The Washington Post — sit in the pews. The Trump-like figure then pulls out a gun and opens fire on the media outlets. Other fake versions of political and media figures are then attacked in the clip, including former FBI Director James Comey, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.
A likeness of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate, later has his head lit on fire with a blow torch.
Alex Phillips, the organiser of the event, told The New York Times that the video was “not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity.”
“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” he said. “This matter is under review.”
Both Sarah Huckabee Sanders and a representative for Donald Trump Jr. told the Times they were not aware of the video and had not seen it at the event.
The video prompted immediate condemnation from many in the media on Sunday night. Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said the group was “horrified” by its contents and called on Trump to denounce the footage.
“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents,” Karl said in a statement. “We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence.”
CNN, which appeared in the video, said despite other anti-media memes that circulate on the internet, the clip shown at the conference was “far and away the worst.”
“The President and his family, the White House, and the Trump campaign need to denounce it immediately in the strongest possible terms,” CNN said Sunday. “Anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence and should not be tolerated by anyone.”
Trump has launched his own attacks on the media for years, using his political events and campaign rallies to fire up his supporters and blast what he’s dubbed the “fake news” for its critical coverage of his administration. During a rally in Minnesota last week, the president went on a rampage, blasting what he called an “unholy alliance of corrupt Democrat politicians, deep-state bureaucrats and the fake news media.”
“They are so dishonest. And frankly, they are so bad for our country,” Trump told a crowd in Minneapolis. “They are so bad. And they could be so good for our country. They could be so good. And maybe they’ll change, and maybe they won’t.”
Trump also shared a video in 2017 that showed him body slamming a person superimposed with CNN’s logo on his Twitter account, causing the clip to go viral.
Such messaging has reverberated around the world, and The New York Times’ publisher noted in September that Trump had used the phrase “fake news” more than 600 times on Twitter since his election. The terminology, the outlet found, has also been used by “more than 50 prime ministers, presidents and other government leaders across five continents … to justify varying levels of anti-press activity,” the publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, wrote at the time.