New York - The New York Times has criticised Donald Trump as “outrageous” after the Republican presidential front-runner mocked one of its reporters and appeared to imitate his disability, the Guardian has reported.
In a speech to supporters on Tuesday night, Trump derided Serge Kovaleski - a reporter for the newspaper who has disputed Trump’s claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks - while flailing and twisting his arms.
Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that affects joint movement. In 2001, he was a journalist at the Washington Post and one of the authors of a report cited by Trump in defence of his 9/11 claim. The 2001 report said that “law enforcement authorities [in Jersey City] detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops”. In the wake of Trump’s insistence that “thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center was destroyed, Kovaleski this week said he did not recall “anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating”.
“We did a lot of shoe leather reporting in and around Jersey City and talked to a lot of residents and officials for the broader story. Much of that has, indeed, faded from memory. “I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember,” he told CNN.
On Tuesday evening, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump tore into this account, telling supporters: “Now the poor guy. You ought to see the guy: ‘Err, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember.’ “He’s going: ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.’” As he spoke, Trump waved his arms around and held his hand in front of his chest in a claw-like position.
“The sad part about it is, it didn’t in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record,” Kovaleski told the Washington Post. A spokesperson for the New York Times told Politico: “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters.” Trump has not commented directly on his latest controversy, but on Wednesday sent several tweets attacking the New York Times.
“We’re not gonna take it anymore,” a crowd of thousands sang as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump entered a South Carolina convention center on Tuesday night as a 1980s heavy metal song by the band Twisted Sister blared from speakers.
The billionaire real-estate developer’s packed rallies have been among the liveliest events in the long build-up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election.
But they are increasingly becoming known for their undercurrent of aggression, which escalated into a physical altercation over the weekend when white Trump supporters attacked a black protester at his rally, to the candidate’s approval. Out in the crowds, the mix of emotions is heady, setting a Trump rally apart from those of virtually all the other Republican and Democratic White House hopefuls.
The rallies combine a gleeful rejection of establishment politics, a fear that the country is about to be transformed into something un-American, and a simmering aggression toward those who dissent from Trump’s world view.
Although he has been the front-runner almost without interruption for four months in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Trump is not the only candidate who can draw more supporters than a venue has chairs. But at rallies other than Trump’s, it would be unusual for disputes over blocked views between those who are standing and those who are sitting to escalate into yelling matches, as happened a couple of times mid-speech on Tuesday. On one occasion, police officers intervened to calm tempers.
At a Trump rally in Alabama on Saturday attended predominantly by white people, Trump supporters punched and kicked a black civil-rights activist who shouted “Black lives matter!” as Trump called from the stage for the activist to be thrown out. Trump later said the activist was “obnoxious” and deserved to be “roughed up.”