We've been asking this question about Trump since the start of his campaign, and now it applies to a 22-year-old college student who thought charging at the candidate mid-speech would be a good way to "show that there are people out there who aren't afraid of Donald Trump."
We know that's what DiMassimo was trying to do because he said so in an interview on CNN that aired Sunday. DiMassimo insisted he wouldn't have tried to harm Trump, had he reached him; he jumped a barricade but was intercepted by security.
Here's how he described what was going through his head at the time:
I was thinking that I could get up on stage and take his podium away from him and take his mic away from him and send a message to all people out in the country who wouldn't consider themselves racists, who wouldn't consider themselves approving of what type of violence Donald Trump is allowing at his rallies and send them a message that we can be strong. We can find our strength, and we can stand up against Donald Trump and against this new wave he's ushering in of truly just violent, white supremacist ideas.
Apparently it didn't occur to DiMassimo that running full-speed at Trump in a manner that couldn't possibly be interpreted in the moment as anything other than a violent threat might not be the best way to show opposition to violence. We're not dealing with a sophisticated thought process here.
So should CNN have given him the chance to explain that thought process in the first place? I say yes.
The world would have suffered no great deprivation by not hearing from DiMassimo, but his stage rush was big news a day after a mass protest prompted Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago. Anyone who saw footage of DiMassimo's run surely wondered, "What on Earth was he thinking?" There's nothing wrong with actually asking him that question.
Plus, I don't buy the idea that interviewing DiMassimo will encourage other protesters to try the same thing. If anything, the interview exposed the folly of his antics. He couldn't provide what any clear-thinking Trump opponent would consider a legitimate rationale for his actions.
I'm not saying there won't be copycats; I'm saying that if there are, it will probably be because they saw DiMassimo's rush played over and over on TV and online, not because they heard him say something brilliant and inspirational on CNN.