Donald Trump bought into yet another Internet conspiracy over the weekend, this time insisting that he was attacked by ISIS instead of an ordinary protester at a rally in Dayton, Ohio .The protester attempted to rush the stage on Saturday as the Republican presidential frontrunner was giving a speech at a rally inside an airplane hanger. The activist, later identified as Thomas DiMassimo, was quickly intercepted by Secret Service agents, arrested, and charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic. (He is currently out on bail.)
DiMassimo is a left-wing activist, and passionate supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Black Lives Matter movement - with no known ties to ISIS.But that's not what Trump wants you to believe.
The day after tweeting that DiMassimo "has ties to ISIS" and "should be in jail," Trump was asked on NBC's Meet the Press if he'd gone too far with his false accusation.After all, the root of the alleged ISIS connection is nothing more than an online video that is clearly a hoax.Trump's defense of his comment was that if it is on the Internet, it must be real.“No, no, no, no, he was,” Trump told host Chuck Todd. “If you look on the Internet, if you look at clips, he was waving an American flag... He was walking, dragging the American flag on the ground."Trump added that DiMassimo “was playing Arabic music,” (he was not, that was dubbed in by someone with access to the World Wide Web), and that "he had Internet chatter with ISIS and about ISIS.” (No law enforcement agency has ever claimed this.)“All I know is what's on the Internet,” Trump, who is on track to be the 2016 Republican nominee, said.DiMassimo did not immediately respond to our requests for comment regarding what he thinks of Trump believing he is a member of the so-called Islamic State. The Secret Service declined to comment when asked by The Daily Beast if (as Trump insists) there is any evidence whatsoever (there isn't any) that the protester was linked to ISIS's network of bloodletting international terrorism.
Trump has routinely blurted out inflammatory, outrageous statements in his 2016 run for the White House. What makes this one an added dose of irresponsible (beyond the absence of credible evidence) is the rising tide of violence at Trump rallies lately — and in at least one case, the stated reason for the violence was irrational suspicion of a protester's ISIS ties.On Wednesday, 78-year-old, cowboy-hat-donning John McGraw was charged with assault and battery after sucker-punching a black protester named Rakeem Jones at a Trump campaign event in North Carolina. When asked by Inside Edition why he punched the young activist in the eye, McGraw replied that "we don't know if he's ISIS. We don't know who he is, but we know he's not acting like an American, cussing me…If he wants it laid out, I laid it out."
"He deserved it," the 78-year-old Trump fan added. "The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don't know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization."
Now, Trump is explicitly telling millions of viewers, and his supporters, that the man who stage-rushed him over the weekend was definitely tied to that terrorist organization.
The fact that he wasn't, doesn't matter to team Trump.
There are plenty of Trump supporters — some of whom willing to throw a punch or two, if not worse — ready to believe it.