NEWS
13/02/2019 07:47 GMT | Updated 13/02/2019 08:41 GMT

White House Condemns Attack On BBC Journalist At Trump Rally

“We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner."

The White House has condemned an attack on a BBC camera operator who was pounced on by a Donald Trump supporter at a rally in Texas on Monday.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump “condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press.”

“We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner,” Sanders said.

It came as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the attack was “worrying” and related to a broader issue of press freedom.

“It is never acceptable when journalists and cameramen are attacked just for doing their job,” Hunt told Sky News on Tuesday. “There is a broader issue here, which is that last year 80 journalists were killed across the world just doing their job.”

“We are very worried about this because freedom of the press is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies. It’s very, very important that we protect the ability of journalists to do their jobs.”

Hunt added, in an apparent reference to America: “We have to make sure that it’s not acceptable anywhere in the world for journalists to be impeded from doing what they should do, which is to tell the public exactly what’s going on and hold power to account.”

AP/WIRE
The unidentified supporter of Donald Trump who attacked journalists during a rally in El Paso, Texas.

Gary O’Donoghue, the BBC’s Washington correspondent, said his colleague, Ron Skeans, was “violently attacked” at the rally but was doing fine.

“It was an incredibly violent attack. Fortunately our cameraman is fine, he is made of stern stuff,” O’Donoghue told Radio 4′s Today programme.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, were also among the speakers at the rally, which focused on border security.

Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of Trump’s re-election campaign, said an individual “involved in a physical altercation with a news cameraman” was removed from the rally. He praised “the swift action from venue security and law enforcement officers.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents journalists working to report the administration, condemned the attack, which came during Trump’s rally in El Paso.

The association’s president, Olivier Knox, said Tuesday the group is relieved that “this time, no one was seriously hurt.“

Knox said the president should make clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.

Trump has criticised the media since launching his bid to become president in 2015, and regularly tweets about “fake news”.

Of the BBC, Trump once said, “here’s another beauty,” before questioning the broadcaster’s impartiality.

With reporting from the Associated Press.