President Trump says 'FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL' in response to rally confrontation
President Donald Trump retweeted a post by News 12 reporter Kevin Vesey on his experience at a rally by a Setauket conservative group.
The president tweeted Vesey's video Friday night with the caption, "'FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL,'" echoing chants by the protesters at this week's rally.
President Trump followed up Saturday morning, sharing the protest video again with the caption, "People can't get enough of this. Great people!"
Vesey says the protesters confronted him at a rally in Commack to reopen Long Island. He says some people came close to him without masks as he tried to file reports on Facebook Live and Twitter.
News 12 had previously covered a similar protest by the same group two weeks ago.
"A lot of people think the coverage was unfair last time around," Vesey says. "And that's fine. They can definitely feel that way."
Vesey says most of the protesters were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech but a few, louder voices drowned them out.
The group that organized the rally, the Setauket Patriots, issued an apology
as the videos went viral.
"I think Kevin was remarkably and admirably restrained in that encounter with the protesters and as I say, it's a real lesson in how to conduct yourself in that situation," said Mark Lukasiewicz, the dean of Hofstra’s School of Communication.
Since his reports from Thursday's protest, the video has also drawn the attention of media outlets from as far away as China and Amsterdam and as close to home as the Washington Post. It also garnered mostly positive messages of support from elected officials, celebrities and journalists, including CNN's Jake Tapper and Brian Stelter.
“Anderson Cooper sent me a very nice private message on Instagram," said Vesey.
Despite the attention, Vesey, who grew up not far from where he was confronted, says he remains focused on reporting the facts and stories of all the people on the Island.