The New York Republican and Democratic primaries are tomorrow (April 19). No doubt, Donald J. Trump has been the most surprising and controversial candidate in 2016. Trump, a television star, and his relationship to media are historically significant, regardless of how one feels about him or his candidacy. He has more Republican delegates, has spent more of his own money, and had far more media coverage than any other presidential candidate.
Trump’s Chicago rally in early March brought out hundreds of protesters who opposed his positions, particularly on immigration and Islam. Thirty five minutes after the scheduled starting time of 6pm, a representative of the campaign took the podium and announced that the rally at University of Illinois Chicago would be “postponed.” The lead-up to the event was carried live on MSNBC and CNN and viewers witnessed the scene with Trump supporters and opponents. The campaign’s decision to postpone was based on the premise that violence had already broken out, and attributed it primarily to the anti-Trump protesters.
However, in this wonderful example of an independent videomaker documenting a public event, we get a distinctly different impression of both what was shown on national television and the reasons cited by the Trump campaign.
Here’s what veteran filmmaker/journalist Bill Stamets wrote about the video and about what he saw at the rally:
Eighteen minutes of unedited video shot on an iPad 3 between 5:37pm and 6:53pm from seat #10, second row, section 109 of the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion on Friday, March 11, 2016.
Trump scheduled his Make America Great Again! Rally to start at 6pm, and at 6:30pm an unidentified individual read a statement that Trump postponed the event.
My 5:37pm video may document the first protester escorted out of the arena by campus security. From my seat I saw none in the hour before that, and cannot find news reports or uploaded cellphone videos showing any similar incidents elsewhere in the Pavilion prior to 5:37pm. Uniformed UIC officers removed maybe a dozen other non-violent protesters before 6:30pm.
This is the “violence” inside the venue that supposedly motivated Trump to not arrive and appear?
During a live broadcast of “Breaking News,” a MSNBC camera on the raised press platform at the center of the Pavilion recorded two brief instances of punches thrown at the rear of the main floor. The microphone was too far away to record what words were exchanged between these white Trump supporters and black Trump protesters. MSNBC’s onscreen clock read 6:45pm and 6:46pm. Reruns of these two clips, shot 15 minutes after Trump postponed, illustrated many news reports claiming that “violent” [sic] protesters before 6:30pm forced Trump to “cancel” [sic] his Make America Great Again! rally for reasons of “safety.”
WrestleMania, in this video from 2007, demonstrates what might have been Trump’s preparation for the Republican primary debates. At least it shows his feistiness.