Fox News correspondent Leland Vittert received what he called “a lot of body shots” last night as he was covering the George Floyd protest in front of the White House. He said he had not been so scared since being chased out of Egypt’s Tahrir Square by the Muslim Brotherhood.
I’m all for heckling anyone from Fox News, even Vittert, who is one of the best hosts, in my opinion. But violence is never warranted and I do not condone it under any circumstances.
That said, Fox has reaped a bit of what it’s sown, though it’s unfortunate it was reaped on Vittert, who has probably sown none of it. But the network has repeatedly cheered – yes, cheered – suggestions of violence toward other reporters. Remember Donald Trump’s tweet showing him body slamming CNN? Fox celebrated it. Sean Hannity called it “hilarious.” Hannity also gave his stamp of approval to mob harassment of CNN’s Jim Acosta at a Trump rally, even though Acosta had tweeted he was worried someone would get hurt.
And, of course, there’s Trump, himself, calling the media “enemy of the people,” e.g. When a reporter was harassed in Long island by Trump supporters, Trump tweeted, “People can’t get enough of this. Great people!”
Vittert described what happened to Fox host Neil Cavuto today:
VITTERT: When you go cover these protests, you’re expecting perhaps for there to be violence, especially when there’s going to be clashes with police, but this was different.
We were really targeted, our crew and I. The crowd turned on us. It was clear it was organized and then a mob descended on us, chased us out of Lafayette Park there. There were 50 or 60 people who no longer cared about the Secret Service or yelling epithets at President Trump or talking about that.
They came out after us, chased us out, took our camera, smashed our camera, took my microphone, threw it at me. We took a lot of body shots in terms of getting pushed around and shoved around, and then finally made our way about two blocks to where we could find a police cruiser and then the police there called in reinforcements.
It was the most scared I have been since being chased out of Tahrir Square by a group from the Muslim Brotherhood. … Had we not been able to get out, things could have been a lot, lot worse.
Vittert explained how it started:
VITTERT: There was a fellow who was sort of a tracker, if you will. He was wearing a hoodie and he kept badgering us, “Who do you work for? Who do you work for? Who do you work for?” And we’d sort of always move away. And then all of a sudden, he pulled out his phone and had on Twitter a screen shot of me and started passing his phone around to a couple of other people and said, “He works for Fox News” and as soon as we come on the air and I started talking, big crowd came around, started chanting “F Fox News” and pushed me forward and then the crowd gathered, massed, and attacked us. …
VITTERT: Once the mob turned on us, about 50 people, and started pushing us out of Lafayette Park, there was two blocks of no man’s land. There was no police, there was nothing. We were on our own save a couple of the other news organizations that were able to capture this.
VITTERT: The protesters were really looking to pick a fight. And that’s the feeling I got. They weren’t interested in being heard or protesting with a single, unified message.
Even when we tried to interview a number of ‘em and talk to ‘em and try to get some kind of explanation or cohesive message, they just weren’t interested in it. They weren’t interested in talking, they weren’t interested in explaining their position. Mostly, they were interested in cussing about the president, etc. And we said, wait, what about the DOJ investigation? What about the FBI looking in to the events in Minneapolis? They didn’t care about any of that.
Fortunately, Vittert is fine. He said he’s “a little sore from the thumping but doing OK.”
You can watch Vittert explain what happened and see some footage of it below from the May 30, 2020 Cavuto Live.
I have no respect for Vittert as a reporter but vehemently believe in his right to gather his propaganda unharassed and unharmed. I do find it curious co-worker and infamous white nationalist Tucker Carlson’s “Daily Caller” coincidentally filmed the latter part of the incident. Vittert’s own video didn’t, IMHO, support his breathless recap reading the minds of protesters to project their intent was “violence”, to “pick a fight” with police. I see everyone standing there peacefully with a few isolated incidents of police injuries.
Speaking of attacking bogeymen, without a shred of evidence other than quite a few black clothed/masked whites participated in the burning and vandalism of buildings, Der Furor and his corrupt sycophant Bill Barr are blaming Antifa. That’s the type of rush to judgement, gasoline on a fire leadership I know I look for from the White House.
I’m sure Trump’s ad agency, Fox News, including Vittert, will be singing “Blame Antifa, Blame Hillary’s Emails” from the MAGA cult hymnal soon.
Not that Democrats embarrassing themselves in a rush to blame white supremacists were any better. Though they did have the benefit of briefly quoting some idiot official who got his facts all wrong. And, yes, I have the right to call him an “idiot” because I didn’t believe him from the start and groaned loudly when he announced it.
Vittert mentioned, “cussing about the president, etc.”. Vittert’s “etc.” elides over the fact that most of Fox News is THE critical enabler of this president, so of course an anti-Trump crowd would be hostile to a Fox News representative. Vittert should have expected that and come up with more open questions than, “What about the DOJ investigation? What about the FBI looking in to the events?” as though those were two separate things heading a long list of things.
Instead of using administration talking points (i.e. 2 points which really amounted to only one point), Vittert would have been (slightly) better off defending Fox News itself, noting that had not Hannity & guests pointed out that something was amiss with the treatment of George Floyd, Trump might well have not even sanctioned a federal investigation.
Having said all that, violent “protesters”—e.g. people who threw objects at Vittert—are doing the work of right-wing or perhaps even of foreign-country-backed provocateurs and should be regarded as such, whatever they profess.