What to Know
- The Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar" in Central Park is facing backlash over the on-stage killing of a Trump-like dictator
- Delta and Bank of America dropped their sponsorship of the play; Delta said it "crossed the line"
- The Public has long protected its role as incubator of provocative and challenging works, and continued to defend this production
The president's oldest son is facing backlash for a retweet referencing controversy over a New York City theater's controversial production of "Julius Caesar" in response to a shooting at a congressional baseball practice that left a top GOP politician and at least two Capitol Police officers wounded Wednesday.
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Donald Trump Jr. replied simply, "This" as he quoted a tweet from TV personality and political consultant Harlan Hill about the Public Theater's production, which portrays a Donald Trump-like dictator in a business suit with a long tie who gets knifed to death onstage.
Hill tweeted, "Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President," around 8:30 a.m., just as media reported House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was among those shot when a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria. Scalise and the others injured, which include a congressional aide as well as the police officers, are expected to survive.
The gunman, who has been identified as an Illinois man in his late 60s, was shot by police responding to the scene. He died at a hospital, President Trump said.
Trump Jr.'s retweet had more than 3,000 retweets of its own and 1,600-plus comments, many of those critical.
"It is unconscionable that you would retweet things like this in the middle of a tragedy. You should be ashamed of yourself," one Twitter user commented.
"The moral of the play is that violence is wrong. Did you never read Julius Caesar? why are you politicizing the shooting in VA? #Alexandria," another user said, asking where the outrage was when a then-President Obama look-alike was used in similar fashion five years or so ago.
Trump Jr. also retweeted a news report as the shooting investigation developed.
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The retweet Wednesday wasn't his first social media response to the play -- on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a Fox News story and wrote, "I wonder how much of this 'art' is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does 'art' become political speech & does that change things?"
The president's son is not the only one to object to the Public Theater's adapted performance of the classic William Shakespeare play, which went on as planned in Central Park Monday night despite the uproar.
Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship of the Public's version of the play, but in a statement Monday the theater said it stands behind the production. It noted its staging has "provoked heated discussion" but "such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy."
Other defenders included Scott Stringer, the New York City comptroller, who wrote letters to the heads of Delta and Bank of America earlier this week arguing that dropping their support "sends the wrong message."
This modern-day Caesar's violent death at the hands of conspirators comes not long after comedian Kathy Griffin was widely condemned for posing for a photograph in which she gripped a bloodied rendering of Trump's head.