Already in a ditch, Trump goes negative against elderly Buffalo man

Trump saw the Buffalo video, learned of the public's revulsion, and decided to go after the hospitalized old guy who was left bleeding on the ground.
Image: In this screenshot from video, WBFO reporter records graphic video of incident showing an officer appear to push an individual leaving him stumbling to a fall in Niagra Square, Buffalo.
In this screenshot from video, WBFO reporter records graphic video of incident showing an officer appear to push an individual leaving him stumbling to a fall in Niagra Square, Buffalo.Mike Desmond / WBFO
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By Steve Benen

As protests in support of social justice have taken shape in communities across the country, there's no shortage of reports about law enforcement needlessly harming protestors. But among the most jarring incidents occurred last week in Buffalo.

During a protest, two Buffalo police officers were captured on video knocking down a 75-year-old man. The victim was seen lying on the ground, blood pouring out of his ear after his head hit the concrete, before he was taken to the hospital. The officers involved were ultimately fired, and a local prosecutor charged them over the weekend with felony assault.

This morning, Donald Trump thought it'd be a good idea to go after the elderly, hospitalized man via Twitter.

"Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old ... was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?"

In other words, the president saw the video, learned of the public's revulsion, and decided the smart move was to go after the hospitalized old guy who was left bleeding on the ground.

Where does one even start? With the fact that Trump can't substantiate any of his new conspiracy theories with evidence? With the idea that we're supposed to believe the elderly man was responsible for his own head injury? With the president's apparent clarification as to what he thinks "law and order" means?

With the degree to which this ties into Trump's repeated promotion of violence against protestors he disagrees with?

As offensive as the Republican's tweet was, let's also acknowledge the political context: Trump is struggling with seniors, who were an important part of the 2016 coalition of voters who put him in power in the first place. The president didn't do himself any favors with older voters in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and I have a hunch his thoughts on Buffalo won't help, either.

Indeed, I'm trying to imagine the conversation between Trump and his campaign strategists...

Campaign team: Sir, you're struggling with seniors, who were a key part of your 2016 coalition.

Trump: What if I go after a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized after the police shoved him to the ground?

Campaign team: We don't think that's --

Trump: Someone get me my phone.

* Update: Evidently, the conspiracy theory peddled by the president this morning originated on fringe, right-wing websites. The ridiculous theory has no basis in reality.

The person responsible for the absurd report Trump touted in his tweet is reportedly a former employee of Sputnik, Russia's propaganda network.

* Second Update: NBC News did a really nice job this morning tracking this bizarre theory from an anonymous Twitter thread, to an anonymous blog, to a right-wing media outlet, to the president of the United States.