Closing in the polls and basking in the warmth of the crowd’s love in Miami on Wednesday, Donald Trump suddenly paused during a speech to pursue a personal vendetta against an NBC reporter, Katy Tur, accusing her of refusing to report on the size of his rallies.
“We have massive crowds,” Trump said, before launching into the entirely false claim he repeats at every gathering, that the attendance at his rallies is a major story the reporters following his campaign refuse to report. “There’s something happening — they’re not reporting it,” he said.
Trump then pointed at Tur in the press pen, adding: “Katy, you’re not reporting it, Katy. But there’s something happening, Katy. There’s something happening, Katy.”
As Trump turned the crowd’s attention on Tur, some of his supporters could be seen pointing in her direction, and her colleagues reported that she was jeered.
Heard a guy behind the press pen repeatedly yelling "report that Katy!" as a result of this.— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) November 2, 2016
Last December, he singled her out for abuse on Twitter calling her “dishonest” for reporting, accurately, that he had abruptly ended a speech after a primary campaign event was disrupted by protesters.
Four days after that tweet did not lead to Tur’s firing, Trump turned on her again, after news crews covering his speech in North Carolina refused his order to pan the room, to show the size of the crowd. “Some of the media’s terrific, but most of it — 70 percent, 75 percent — is absolute, dishonest — absolute scum,” Trump said. He then praised a right-wing blog, Gateway Pundit, for echoing his claim that Tur had lied.
“They did the most beautiful story about what a lie it was from NBC,” Trump said, pointing to Tur at the back of the room. “She’s back there, little Katy, she’s back there,” he said, as the crowd erupted in boos. “Katy Tur, he added. “Third. Rate. Reporter. Remember that.”
After the event, Tur wrote, the atmosphere was so hostile that she had to be escorted to her car by the Secret Service. She has endured death threats on social networks ever since.
In July, when Tur pressed Trump on his extraordinary call for Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email server — to steal and release the messages she had deemed private and deleted — he bristled at her questioning. “Mr. Trump, do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government — Russia, China, anybody — to interfere, to hack into the system of anybody in this country?” Tur asked.
Trump tried to deflect the question, but when Tur persisted, he interrupted her, saying: “Be quiet. I know you want to, you know, save her.”
Trump’s denunciation of the media is by now so routine that his fans harassed reporters before the rally in Miami even started on Wednesday, with one of them claiming the “lying press” was willing to “sell out for a few shekels.”
During the event, as BBC reporter filmed the crowd while Trump said, “there has never been anywhere near the media dishonesty like we’ve seen in this election,” one of his supporters could be heard shouting, “nasty media!”
Update: Late Wednesday night, Tur responded to Trump’s taunting of her, and reported that the candidate had previously told journalists who follow him that he is aware of the fact that the pool camera that records his speeches cannot also pan away to show the crowds.