Based on an unsubstantiated report from One America News, President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old man who was hospitalized last week after being pushed by Buffalo police during a protest against police brutality “could be an ANTIFA provocateur.”
“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino 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?” the president wrote Tuesday.
Lis Power of Media Matters, which monitors conservative media, posted the original OAN report on Twitter following Trump’s tweet.
In it, an anchor for the right-wing network discusses the viral video — which led to criminal assault charges and suspension for two officers and the resignation of 57 others from the emergency response team — and says, “New reports find a protester pushed by Buffalo police was appearing to use common Antifa tactics.”
A correspondent on OAN then references the “report,” which is a blog post from a website called “Conservative Treehouse.” That blog accused the 75-year-old of “using a phone as a capture scanner” to attempt “to capture the radio communications signature of Buffalo police officers,” without any evidence to substantiate that claim. OAN picked up the blog post, ran it as a report which prompted Trump, also without factual basis, to suggest Gugino was part of a “set up.”
OAN President Charles Herring defended its report. “It is important to report the facts, rather than to tell a story to fit ones narrative. Revealing the intent of Mr. Gugino is critical to understanding HIS actions and what happened,” he told TheWrap exclusively. He did not explain the factual basis for the OAN report or how the network had revealed Gugino’s “intent” without any apparent attempt to contact Gugino for comment.
“Making judgements on incomplete information is dangerous,” Herring continued. “OAN provides its viewers the facts giving them the ability to decide for themselves.”
Gugino’s attorney Kelly Zarcone did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but she told Buffalo TV news anchor Ed Drantch of WKBW, “There is no need to go around name calling, accusing people of being things they’re not. Everything will work itself out. … Martin has always been a peaceful protester, I don’t know where that comes from.”