Mar 1, 2016 by


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The United States Secret Service

It’s galling enough that the mainstream corporate media has been in tacit collusion with Donald Trump’s sensationalist, racist, bombastic campaign because it is titillating and attracts viewers – which means more advertising dollars and profit. However, when evidence like the Instagram clip below, posted (with a comment) by Celeste Chorniak – a student at Radford University in Virginia – shows a US Secret Service agent assaulting a veteran TIME photographer for attempting to stray from the Trump-campaign designated media pen, it is appalling to contemplate the federal government’s complicity in enforcing the spectacle rules that enhance Trump’s demagoguery.

If you play Chorniak’s Instagram clip, you will see that the Secret Service agent lunges toward the TIME photographer before he even leaves the media pen, putting a choke hold on him and then throwing him to the ground. You can see the attack occur at the bottom of the video, about midway across the screen, a few seconds after the clip begins. The comments below the video are those of Chorniak.

The Washington Post – in its frequent namby-pamby way – actually wrote up the assault on the photographer as if it were unclear if he was roughed up by the Secret Service agent without “cause.” In an article today, the Post curiously conjectures:

You know those inkblot tests that are supposed to reveal something about your personality, based on what you see in confusing, splattery images? Well, the cellphone video clips of a physical altercation involving a photographer at a Donald Trump rally on Monday are like a real-life Rorschach.

How you react says a lot about what you think of Trump, the media and law enforcement.

Here’s what we know: There was a violent confrontation between a photojournalist and a Secret Service agent during Trump’s campaign event in Radford, Va.

According to numerous reports, the photographer uttered an expletive at the Secret Service agent who was blocking his way and tried to get around him to document a Black Lives Matter protest that was marching through the Trump event in Virginia. After the agent violently threw him to the ground, the photographer tried to resist. As TIME writes about the “incident”:

Unlike other presidential campaigns, which generally allow reporters and photographers to move around at events, Trump has a strict policy requiring reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule during his speeches. The entrance to the penned area is generally monitored by the Secret Service detail, which also screens attendees at his events and personally protects the candidate.

“I’ve worked for nine years at the White House and have never had an altercation with the Secret Service,” Morris says in a statement. “What happened today was very unfortunate and unexpected. The rules at Trump events are significantly stricter than other campaigns and make it very difficult to work as a photographer, as many others have pointed out before me. I regret my role in the confrontation, but the agent’s response was disproportionate and unnecessarily violent. I hope this incident helps call attention to the challenges of press access.”

What the reporter “regretted” is not clear since the Instagram clip clearly shows that he was subject to impulsive, brutal force reminiscent of the New York City Police Department’s treatment of many Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Trump supporters were freely circulating around the so-called media pen that Trump – as TIME points out – not infrequently points to as a prop to humiliate journalists and incite the crowd to jeer at the media. Ironically, it is the mainstream corporate media – along with his astute use of social media – that has made Trump into a viable right-wing populist billionaire presidential candidate. When interviewed by Wolf Blitzer or a host on the Sunday morning talk shows, it’s hard to tell whether Trump is the Joker from Batman or a tacky “get-rich-quick” and keep-America-white television celebrity.

So if the Trump acolytes, who Sarah Palin so irresistibly called the “trumpeters,” were milling about – 360 degrees around – the Trump campaign media pen, clearly a photographer from TIME was hardly a greater threat than many of Trump’s racist, gun-crazed, white nationalist and religious extremist followers, among other members of the volatile Republican electorate. Yet, they weren’t thrown to the ground by a Secret Service agent for exercising their freedom to circulate at the Trump rally.

BuzzFlash at Truthout, therefore, asks the question: Why is the Secret Service, paid for by taxpayers, collaborating with the Trump campaign not to ensure his safety in the case of confining reporters to the media pen, but rather to ensure that the media is controlled and can be used as a prop to be defamed by Trump?

The role of the Secret Service is to secure the safety of senior public officials and competitive presidential candidates, not to help enhance their campaigns, which seems to be what occurred last night as a TIME photographer was kept from performing his journalistic duties and photographing the Black Lives Matter protest.

The Washington Post offered its frequent mealymouthed reporting in which all sides have equally valid vantage points. But the Instagram video by Chorniak (which The Post ironically included in its wishy-washy article on the attack) raises the question: Why are employees of the US government assisting Donald Trump in creating calculated and controlled spectacles on television – and enforcing his directives with violence?

Not to be reposted without the permission of Truthout.

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