Notebooks, mics, cameras, hairspray — those are all things TV reporters are used to having with them at political rallies. Now, in the age of President Donald Trump, they’ve added another: security guards.
The networks are employing them, according to reporters, at Trump’s high-octane political rallies, where the media often serves as the No. 1 rhetorical punching bag.
Last weekend, NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett posted a picture on Instagram of himself with a member of the NBC security detail at Trump’s Ohio rally, commenting, “We need security guards when covering rallies hosted by the President of the United States. Let that sink in.” Meanwhile, ABC News reporter Tara Palmeri tweeted and wrote about covering the Ohio rally, “for the first time with a bodyguard.”
Networks deployed security at Trump events as far back as the 2016 campaign. But in the wake of the shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, and with the president ramping up both his rally schedule and his rhetoric against the media — he has tweeted that reporters are the “enemy of the people” five times in the past month, while he’d used the line just twice on Twitter before that — news outlets now find themselves increasingly facing the question of whether they’re doing enough to keep journalists safe.
And reporters are starting to discuss the threats they face more often.
“Everybody is talking about it again,” one White House reporter said. “People have been talking about it in the last month. It’s because of the combination of the mass killing in Annapolis and Trump’s stepped-up rhetoric.”
“What you do not see are the nasty letters or packages or emails. The threats of physical violence,” she said. “’I hope you get raped and killed,’ one person wrote to me just this week. ‘Raped and killed.’ Not just me, but a couple of my female colleagues as well.”
POLITICO reached out to several major print and TV news outlets to ask whether their safety procedures had changed recently, and though many — including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC News — declined to comment, citing policies against discussing security matters, others indicated that the issue is receiving more attention.
“The New York Times takes the safety of our reporters very seriously,” said New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha, adding that in recent months, “we have expanded measures to protect our journalists against the overall backdrop of increased threats and verbal attacks.”