Last week, Donald Trump ominously warned that “riots” and “bad things” would happen if Republicans nominated someone else at their convention. His comments were especially disturbing in light of the repeated violence that has broken out at his rallies and from his own campaign manager. But Fox News’ Howard Kurtz waved away the concern as a media overreaction.
In case you missed it, here’s what The New York Times reported Trump said on March 16:
“I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but I can tell you, if we didn’t and if we’re 20 votes short or if we’re 100 short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically,” Mr. Trump said. “I think it would be — I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous, many, many millions of people.”
He added: “If you disenfranchise those people and you say, well I’m sorry but you’re 100 votes short, even though the next one is 500 votes short, I think you would have problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen, I really do. I believe that. I wouldn’t lead it but I think bad things would happen.”
As The Times also noted, “The comments came days after Mr. Trump was the subject of widespread criticism for his violent words against protesters at his rallies. His event in Chicago on Friday night was canceled as his supporters and people protesting him scuffled inside a University of Illinois at Chicago arena.”
Also recently, assault charges were filed by former Fox News contributor Michelle Fields against Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, alleging that he yanked her so hard as she was asking Trump a question, there were bruises on her arm. Yesterday, a video surfaced showing Lewandowski grabbing the collar of a protester at a Trump rally in Arizona.
But Fox News’ media critic, Howard Kurtz suggested that the consternation over Trump’s “riot” comment was some kind of liberal media BS on his MediaBuzz show.
KURTZ: I was surprised that the media went to DEFCON 1 over Trump’s riots comment. I mean, I’ve used that phrase, “Oh, there will be riots if this happens,” and I thought it was hyperbole. But now some commentators saying he was threatening violence.
USA Today’s Heidi Przybyla agreed but she pointed out that the context of “actual violence” and “encouraging violence” made it more noteworthy:
PRZYBYLA: Yeah, I had thought wow, that’s terrible, because I didn’t see the actual comments myself until I went back and read them. And honestly I had said something earlier in the week that if the race—in this context—if the race were that close and Trump had just below the number needed to get the delegates and the Republicans came in and swooped in with some other candidate, there would be mutiny, there would be chaos. Ted Cruz used those words too. But when Donald Trump said it, because it came in the context of a week in which there was actual violence going on at his rallies and he is in the spotlight for encouraging violence at his rallies, it took on a life of its own.
Rather than address that point, Kurtz changed the subject to suggest to conservative Gayle Trotter that even the conservative media is unfairly anti-Trump:
KURTZ: What do you think Gayle? And also this comes against the backdrop of many in the conservative media just pushing these endless scenarios about what could, should, might happen in Cleveland, because they’re in the "Never Trump" camp.
GAYLE TROTTER: Yes, and this is nothing new in politics. You might remember that President Obama in 2009 sat down with American CEOs and told them that his administration was the only thing between him and the pitchforks. So this is nothing new in politics, and yes the conservative media, the far left and the far right, are trying to keep anybody but Trump from getting the nomination. So I think they continue to push this narrative as well.
Even Democrat Joe Trippi joined in the Trump rehab operation.
KURTZ: Joe, are the media underplaying the explosion of anger, not necessarily violence, but chaos is a good word, that would take place if deals are cut and Donald Trump is denied the nomination if he’s close to the magic number?
JOE TRIPPI: Absolutely. Look, I’ve said it. I’ll say it clearer. If they do this, it will blow up the party. Now I wasn’t talking about violence.
…Look, regardless of the language you use, he spoke the truth. This is one of the things about Trump. He speaks something that his followers believe is true and that most of us believe is true, which is if they did this, there is going to be chaos and disruption and a lot of anger out there. And then the media responds by saying, “Oh, my gosh, how can he say that?” Which just reinforces him with his supporters and actually—and actually encourage more—his strength in oncoming primaries.
But later, when discussing Trump’s attacks on Megyn Kelly, Przybyla noted that Trump used “loaded words” like “sick” and “crazy” when describing her. It’s hard to imagine that anyone objectively looking at Trump’s comments, especially in light of Trump's other violent rhetoric, wouldn’t think words like “riots” and “bad things” are just as loaded.
Watch it below, from the March 20 MediaBuzz. (Transcript via Media Matters, with some edits).
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Kurtz misses the key point that Trump’s riot comment (and his BS leading from behind) is even far more irresponsible than comments from very mere, bombastic commentators like Kurtz and most guests on Fox. Contrary to Kurtz, this WAS a big, alarming development. Can you imagine candidates on the left threatening riots in the late 60’s/early 70’s when the left went to its extreme? Has such a veiled threat been made in previous US history since Lincoln?