The meme showing President Donald Trump attacking humans with the logos of media organizations in place of their faces came after a slew of assassination fantasies against Trump has been made public, including one in the New York Times.
The meme, which played at a conservative conference in Florida over the weekend, sparked outrage from reporters, who claimed the president has been inciting violence against them. But some of their own news organizations have been involved with dreams of Trump being killed. Trump condemned the video.
The New York Times, which first published a story about the meme, published an assassination fantasy in October 2018.
The story, titled “How it Ends” by author Zoe Sharp, imagines a Secret Service agent assisting a Russian in killing Trump.
The New York Times defended the article.
“It’s very clear what this is: A work of fiction, commissioned by editors of the Book Review as part of a package of five stories penned by a range of spy and crime novelists—in the Halloween edition,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
A play that featured a mock assassination of a Trump lookalike was held in 2017 by a group sponsored in part by the paper.
“I always go to Shakespeare in the park, but I wasn’t expecting to see this,” Laura Sheaffer, a sales manager at Salem Media, told Mediaite.
“To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful. If this had happened to any other president—even as recently as Barack Obama or George W. Bush—it would not have flown. People would have been horrified. I mean it was the on-stage murder of the president of the United States.”
The New York Times said in a statement: “As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”
In May 2018, CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza shared a picture of Trump in crosshairs. Cillizza later deleted the post without apologizing. “I’ve deleted a GIF about President Trump,” he said. “We use @GifGrabber to make our GIFs and it defaults to the image below as a first frame. To clear up any unintended confusion, I’ve removed the tweet.”
In another case, Kathy Griffin held a severed head that appeared to be Trump in 2017 during a photoshoot. She was fired by CNN afterward.
“Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” Trump said at the time.
Also that year, conversations leaked showing BuzzFeed employees discussing Trump winning the election.
After one employee, Nick Guillory called the election “scary close,” video social media editor Maycie Thornton said “maybe someone will assassinate him.”
“lol maycie!!!” Guillory replied.