CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has launched a furious attack on US President Donald Trump, labelling the President a "thug" who "claimed a power he doesn't really have."
Cooper editorialised about the escalating tensions between police and protesters in the US while presenting his current affairs analysis program, Anderson Cooper 360.
He spoke as Trump emerged from the White House, where he had briefly been taken into an underground bunker by security for his safety over the weekend. Police forcibly moved protesters out of Lafayette Park across the road from the White House so the president could take a photo in front of a church that had been defaced.
It came after the President announced he would mobilise "heavily-armed military forces" to stop the "rioting and looting" taking place in protests across the United States, declaring the riots a "total disgrace".
And the pointed commentary comes as police appear to be deliberately targeting reporters covering the unrest on the ground.
Cooper said he wanted to discuss the: "President of Law and Order, which is how he pronounced himself. He claimed a power he doesn't really have: He can't send the military into every state; that's not law and order. What the president doesn't seem to know or care is that the vast majority of those protesting — they, too, are calling for law and order. A black man killed with four officers holding him down, a knee to the neck for more than eight minutes, nearly three minutes of which he was no longer conscious for? That's not law and order. That's murder. Stopping and frisking a young black man simply because he's a black man? That's not law and order."
"The killing of George Floyd, Eric Garner, the torture of Abner Louima? That's not law and order," Cooper continued.
"The President seems to think that dominating black people, dominating peaceful protesters, is law and order – it's not. He calls them thugs – who's the thug here? Hiding in a bunker, hiding behind a suit, who is the thug? People have waited for days for this wannabe wartime president to say something, and this is what he says, and that is what he does?"
A number of reporters have had staggering encounters with police in recent days, from the live on-air detention of a CNN reporter in Minneapolis – for which Minnesota's Governor later apologised – to the brutal assault of an Australian cameraman and Channel 7 reporter today.
For the latter, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has demanded action, calling for an investigation in the US and phoning the news outlet to condemn the "troubling" violence.
The prestigious Poynter Institute for Journalism declared that attacks on the media covering the protests are "simply following the President's rhetoric".
"While there is no way of knowing the motivation of every single attack against the media, how can one not question if Trump's constant assaults on the press play a role in the disrespect and disregard toward the media?" it wrote on its website.
"When the leader of the free world disrespects the press, why should we expect citizens to respect them?
"For years, we've warned there would come a day when Trump's words would move beyond rhetoric and carry over into real-world violence. The past few days have seen those fears come to fruition."
Addressing the growing chaos on the streets of America, Cooper, who has reported from war-torn regions including Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda, said: "I've seen societies fall apart as a reporter. I've seen people dying in the streets while protesting. I've seen countries ripped apart by hate and misinformation and lies and political demagogues and racism. We can't let that happen here."
"Of course violence is no answer, but people protesting deserve answers, and they haven't gotten them, no matter how many black men have been murdered, lynched, imprisoned, mistreated, redlined, blackballed from jobs. We all know it. People protesting in the streets, they know it, and they're tired of it. And we should be too."
Cooper finished his address by reminding viewers of the New York curfews imposed during the Harlem riot of 1943.
"There's a curfew in New York tonight at 11pm. We remember another curfew, August 1943, that was the last time there was a curfew like this in the city. You know what that curfew was caused by? A white police officer shooting a black soldier.
"The years change, the decades go by, and the sad truth remains."