“We were really targeted. Our crew and I… the crowd turned on us. It’s clear it was organized, and then a mob descended on us.” Leland Vittert, Fox News Journalist, May 30, 2020
Fox News was deliberately targeted during a protest ostensibly for George Floyd early Saturday morning outside the White House, according to journalist Leland Vittert, who spoke with Neil Cavuto. Vittert was in the middle of a live report accompanied by three members of the Fox News crew when rioters surrounded him.
“It was the most scared I have been since being chased out of Tahrir Square by a group from the Muslim Brotherhood,” Vittert said.
Here is the live broadcast where the veteran journalist was swarmed by rioters:
The Daily Caller captured the incredibly tense scene, where rioters were attempting to take the equipment of the crew and chanting “F— Fox News!!” Other smears can be heard: “Fuck that fake-ass news!” “Right Wing Bullshit” “He’s on the side of the cops, F— that guy!”
In an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Vittert explained the scenario.
Watch the interview (transcript below):
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Transcript (via Newsbusters):
NEIL CAVUTO: Leland what did you discover?
LELAND VITTERT: Good evening to you, Neil. When you go cover these protests you’re expecting, perhaps for there to be violence especially when there’s going to be clashes with police but this was different. We were really targeted. Our crew and I, the crowd turned on us, it was clear it was organized, and then a mob descended on us, chased us out of Lafayette Park there. There were 50 or 60 people who no longer cared about the Secret Service or yelling epithets or President Trump or talking about that. They came out after us chased us out, took our camera smashed our camera, took my microphone, threw it at me. We took a lot of body shots in terms of getting pushed around and shoved around, and then finally made our way about two blocks to where we could find a police cruiser and then the police there called in reinforcements. It was the most scared I have been since being chased out of Tahrir Square by a group from the Muslim Brotherhood. It was clear had we not been able to get out and our security you see there did a great job and the Daily Caller was able to capture it certainly happened. Had we not been able to get out, things could have been a lot, lot, worse.
CAVUTO: Leland how did it start? Did they recognize where you were or where you were from or just explain how they caught on to that?
VITTERT: Exactly. There was a fellow who was sort of tracker, if you will, wearing a hoodie and kept badgering us who you work for, who you work, who work for you, and we’d sort of always move away and then all of a sudden he pulled out his phone and had on Twitter a screen shot of me and started passing his phone around to a couple of other people and he said he works for Fox News and as soon as we came on the air and I started talking big crowd came around starting chanting “F Fox News” and pushed me forward and then the crowd gathered, massed, and attacked us.
CAVUTO: How threatening was this last night? I mean, this is across from the White House. You know, a lot of people were concerned that the White House, I know it was a formal lockdown, but concerned enough that the Secret Service, you know, upped the ante there just to protect the president, to protect the area. This kind of sounded like it was escalating pretty quickly.
VITTERT: No question about it. The Secret Service initially, and I say initially, for hours, was very restrained, but when the protesters started trying to push over the bicycle barricades that formed the initial buffer of the White House security, the Secret Service let people chant and push and as soon as they broke down the barricades down, you saw the Secret Service came out with riot gear I’d never seen before. Those were Secret Service officers who were normally just in plain clothes and uniform and they take pride really in being very discreet in how they sort of do their jobs and there’s never really a big show of force with the Secret Service. Now it’s there, but they don’t show it and last night they did and this crowd was pretty violent. They broke down these bicycle barricades that are linked by iron and then when the Secret Service put them back up, the Secret Service used their handcuffs to try and lock the bicycle barricades together to keep the protests back without having to use the riot shields and the protests broke through that wall as well with the handcuffs and the padlocks and wire, so they were right up against the Secret Service. The Secret Service showed incredible restraint, brought out pepper spray, et cetera. But once the mob turned on us, about 50 people and started pushing us out of Lafayette park, there was two blocks of no man’s land. There was no police. There was nothing. We were on our own save for a couple of news organizations that were able to capture this.
CAVUTO: So normally now, it used to be that Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the northern entrance of the White House used to be a thoroughfare and cars could travel, but after 9/11 that quickly ended. And you’re normally not, I believe, Leland, supposed to protest on the White House side of that, that you have to stay away from the fence across the street at Lafayette Square, at Lafayette Park. This crowd, it looks like from some of the explanation you’re giving and we’re now showing, they — they got to that fence. I mean, that — that had to get pretty hairy.
VITTERT: Exactly, it was pretty hairy. It was something — it was something I never thought I would see at the White House and as you noted, Neil, the White House is just to the right, screen right of what you see in our camera and Christian Galgabini (sp?) did an incredible job and will pan over in the video from last night and you’ll see the White House. It’s only 100 yards from where we were to the front door of the White House. Obviously, a lot of fences between there, but the Secret Service will allow anybody to come into Lafayette Park, you can protest, you can shout, you can do whatever you want, but the line is from the brick to the pavement on to what was Pennsylvania Avenue that people drove up and down as you point out and the Secret Service was very clear, you’re not coming over this line, but the Secret Service last night took a lot of abuse. There were firecrackers thrown at them. That’s the White House view. You can see just how close we were. There were firecrackers thrown at the Secret Service. It appeared as though there were a number of bricks. There were a number of officers hurt, Secret Service officers hurt and tons of water bottles thrown. And they just stood there with the riot shields taking the abuse, at one point pepper spray, but the protesters were — were really looking to pick a fight and that’s the feeling I got. They weren’t interested in being heard or having a unified message. They were interested in instigating violence and pushing the Secret Service towards arrest and starting to grab people, et cetera, so my hats off to the Secret Service who showed incredible restraint in the face of real provocation by these protesters who, when we — even when we tried to interview a number of them and talk to them and try to get explanation or cohesive message, they just weren’t interested. They weren’t interested in talking. They weren’t interested in explain their position. Mostly, they were interested in cussing about the president, etc. And we said, wait what about the DOJ investigation. What about the FBI looking into the events in Minneapolis? they didn’t care about any of that.
CAVUTO: Hmm. Very wild. Leland, I’m glad you’re all right. I’m glad your crew is all right.
VITTERT: A little sore from the thumping, but doing okay.
CAVUTO: Yeah, amazing. Alright, thank you, Leland, very, very much. That’s pretty scary stuff.