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How would we report on the Trump campaign if it happened elsewhere?

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (George Skidmore/flickr)

This continues the semi-regular series of stories that again stealing a page from Slate’s Joshua Keating, who has a series of stories about events in the United States “using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries.”

Protests and violence have rocked the campaign events for the leading opposition candidate for president of the United States. Donald J. Trump was forced to cancel a rally in the city of Chicago, located in the central state of Illinois, due to threats by protesters, in early March. The campaign canceled the event due to “growing safety concerns.”

Protests against the candidate have since spread across the country. A highway in the southwestern state of Arizona was blocked by demonstrators rallying against Trump. Roughly 50 people managed to slow down traffic as they chanted “Dump Trump.” Police officers broke up the protest and made several arrests.

“They arrested three people and everybody else left. … They left!” said Trump at an event later that day. “I love our police, but we should do a little bit more of that, you would have a lot less protesters, you would have a lot less agitators.”

With a commanding lead in the election to be the opposition Republican party’s leader, the billionaire has managed to invigorate nationalist support across the country. Concerns both inside the U.S. and elsewhere are growing as the opposition rallies around a candidate accused of inciting violence and making hateful remarks about minority groups.

“European diplomats are constantly asking about Trump’s rise with disbelief and, now, growing panic,” said a senior NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, to Reuters. “With the EU facing an existential crisis, there’s more than the usual anxiety about the U.S. turning inward when Europe needs U.S. support more than ever.”

Domestically, civil society groups worry that a potential Trump presidency could see stronger restrictions on media and speech. He has made clear that he wants to loosen the rules on libel laws. Leaders in non-democratic countries will often use loosely worded laws to crack down on media that does not support the government. Trump has taken an antagonistic stance with media during his campaign.

In November, he mocked a reporter who had a disability. The candidate also got into a quarrel with Univision reporter Jorge Ramos last year when he did not like the line of questioning by the reporter. He has denigrated reporters, most of them female, calling them dumb, dishonest and terrible. Trump labeled Fox News host Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” by Trump.

But it is the mistreatment of journalists at Trump campaign events is a troubling sign. Reporters at campaign events are corralled into a press pen with limited access to the people attending. Other candidates provide space for journalists, but allow them to wander about and interview people in the crowd. Time photographer Chris Morris was choke-slammed by a security member when he stepped outside of the media area.


Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was grabbed by Trump’s campaign manager when she tried to ask him a question. She posted a picture after the incident showing the bruising caused by the grab.

The crackdown on journalists are in line with violence at the Trump events. Demonstrators at events have been shouted down with racial slurs and physically assaulted by people in attendance. Despite all of these problems, Trump continues to perform well in national polls and win races in most states.


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]