The headlines were ominous on Thursday after a man stood up in the audience during a live performance of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore and shouted, “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!”
The NBC headline and teaser were typical:
A man yelled ‘Heil Hitler, Heil Trump’ at ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ show in Baltimore, sparking fear in the audience
When the man yelled and gave a Nazi salute at a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof,” some audience members feared he would pull out a gun.
CBS reported a “moment of panic” for theater-goers in Baltimore’s Hippodrome
Rich Scherr was in the audience at the time and recorded part of the disturbance, posting it on Facebook.
“People started running,” Scherr told The Baltimore Sun. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.'”
From CNN to the New York Times and Washington Post, outlet after outlet emphasized an implied connection of a Nazi salute and a shout of “Heil Trump!” to the fear that a radical anti-Semite with a gun was about to start shooting.
That fear is understandable in itself, of course, after the vicious murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh only three weeks ago. It’s to be expected that audiences at a performance of the iconic Jewish-themed musical would be on edge.
But authorities in Baltimore were aware within a very short time of one salient fact about this event, which, as Legal Insurrection’s Mary Chastain points out, almost none of the media outlets acknowledged in their ledes. Indeed, few of them reported it at all.
The Nazi saluter and “Heil” shouter hates Trump. He told security and the police as much at the time he was detained.
In fact, Anthony M. Derlunas II admitted to drinking heavily before the performance, and shouting about Trump in connection with Hitler because he hates Trump so much.
Chastain summarizes her findings:
When reports came out, outlets like Mediaite and The New York Post referred to the man as a President Donald Trump supporter. I scoured previous reports and most of them buried this simple fact:
The drunk man hates Trump.
As John Nolte at Breitbart pointed out, The Hill is the only publication that came out with a truthful headline and did not bury the lede…
In another interesting twist, many media outlets are now falling all over themselves to feature Derlunas’s apology for his misbehavior. It is encouraging to see his remorse, which he should certainly feel after frightening a theater full of people by disruptively evoking Nazi allusions. But the media don’t always make this diligent an effort to highlight such apologies.
The suspicion does intrude that Mr. Derlunas’s apology is getting a friendly welcome and uncharacteristic emphasis because, basically, he’s a Trump hater.