It’s one thing when Donald Trump does an interview and blasts the media for being dishonest. It’s one thing when he complains about how Megyn Kelly of Fox News asked too-tough questions. It’s one thing when he complains about how Sara Murray of CNN has treated him. It’s one thing when he casually rips a George Will or a Charles Krauthammer.
It’s another thing when Trump, before large and adoring crowds, singles out anonymous camera operators for ridicule. That’s precisely what happened on Jan. 2, at an event in Biloxi, Miss., as Trump engaged the crowd in a fit of cameraperson-shaming. “Look at the guy in the middle. Why aren’t you turning the camera? Terrible. So terrible. Look at him, he doesn’t turn the camera. He doesn’t turn the camera,” said Trump. The purpose of this bizarre tirade was to explain to the crowd that the biased media refuses to properly convey the ample sizeof his crowds. They never pan to the audience, he complains.
At the Biloxi event, Trump made sure people knew which camera operator irked him the most: “That guy right there, who do you shoot for? That guy right there has not moved that camera.”
The reason why “that guy” didn’t move the camera is that he worked for a pool of media organizations covering the Trump campaigns. The dictate of the pool camera operator — working for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News — is to maintain a tight focus on the person at the podium, so as to not miss anything that person says or does. That’s protocol.
“One of our cameramen voiced their concerns with us when Trump started saying those things. We have asked the campaign to tone down the rhetoric, but obviously they don’t care,” says one network news source.
Yesterday at a rally in Reno, Nev., Trump again singled out a camera operator. “See the cameras?” asked Trump at a packed Reno Events Center (See 13:10 in the video at top). “When I go home, my wife will ask me, ‘Were there many people there today?’… If the cameras would show the room — you know, I always say show the room — you won’t even believe it: This place is packed, it’s packed. You see that center camera? It’s not moving. Are you going to move it? Move it? Show the room. Show the room. Show the room. Move it. He won’t move it. They’re just dishonest people; they won’t move it.”
As Trump railed against the camera operator, the crowd booed. Ali Vitali, an NBC News embed following the Trump campaign, noted the moment:
Trump again targets pool camera saying "show the room" multiple times as crowd cheers. "They won't move it," he says press so "dishonest."
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) January 10, 2016
Here’s hoping crowds at future Trump events don’t take his disdain for the pool camera operator too seriously. By one definition, after all, “demagoguery” is a “manipulative approach — often associated with dictators and sleazy politicians — that appeals to the worst nature of people.”