Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, drew fire Sunday night for sharing an ominous-sounding quote from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — cutting him off mid-sentence and omitting context that showed the line was about voting, not violence.
During a campaign rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, Jacobs live tweeted snippets of Trump’s speech, singling out Trump’s reaction to FBI Director James Comey absolving Hillary Clinton, again, in one message:
Trump: We are going to deliver justice the way it used to be in this county
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) November 7, 2016
Jacobs’ followers seized on the seeming ambiguity of the statement, suggesting violent and racist subtexts in Trump’s mind. “Well that doesn’t raise any worrying connotations at all,” one user replied. Another wrote, “what does this mean? Sounds a lot like the Philippines’ new dictator.”
Others saw a racial element in the incomplete quote. “What is he inferring?” one user asked. “Mobs wth [sic] burning crosses, a noose?” One person even posted a photo of a lynching:
Like this? pic.twitter.com/1Ml7TR4n8a
— Jerry Burke (@aqualad08) November 7, 2016
Of course, What Trump was “inferring” would be obvious to anyone watching a live stream of his remarks and skipping the filter of professional reporters.
“We are going to deliver justice the way justice used to be in this country, at the ballot box on November Eighth,” Trump said, after declaring that Comey’s Sunday announcement was evidence of the country’s “rigged system” protecting Clinton. “Clinton is guilty,” he argued. “She knows it, the FBI knows it, and the people know it. And it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot.”
Various conservative and moderate Twitter users called out and mocked Jacobs for what they called dishonest reporting. He has yet to respond to any of them.
We didn't. He told people to go vote.
This guy tried to twist it to imply mob violence.
— HO-HO-HO-Ping ⛄️ (@GamingAndPandas) November 7, 2016
One user who initially found the quote problematic conceded that, while he still distrusts Trump, Jacobs’ presentation of the statement was dishonest.
Jacobs is part of the traveling press pool covering Trump’s campaign. A quick skim of his coverage shows that Guardian readers regularly receive similar spin in Jacobs’ stories, which are presented as straight news copy. Several recent headlines include:
Trump uses Gettysburg address to threaten to sue sex assault accusers
Standing on the threshold of power …or will the US tell Donald Trump ‘You’re fired’?
My year with Trump: covering a curiosity that became a dark phenomenon