The media couldn’t be more blatant in distorting Trump’s words on Charlottesville

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Has the media ever so deliberately and consistently misinterpreted what a president said?

It certainly seems as if the media finally found its proof that President Trump is a racist. ABC News’ coverage was all too typical:

Trump quickly blamed both sides for the conflict, adding that there were “very fine people” among both the protesters — which included white supremacists and white nationalists — and the counterprotesters.

“I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said today. “You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he added.

{mosads}With wall-to-wall news coverage repeating this misreading of Trump’s statement, it’s not too surprising that politicians from both parties quickly condemned the “very fine people” comment. NBC’s headline read: “Democratic, Republican Lawmakers Decry Trump’s Latest Charlottesville Remarks.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich attacked Trump: “This is terrible. The President of the United States needs to condemn these kinds of hate groups. The president has to totally condemn this.”


Does anyone even listen to comments anymore before commenting on them?

When it comes to the president, do politicians just take reporters at their word?

But Trump never said that the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were “very fine people.” He said that there two different types of people protesting the taking down of the Robert E. Lee statue – the racists (“some very bad people in that group”), and people who thought that for the sake of history it was important not to take down the statue.

Here is Trump’s own explanation from his press conference.

Trump: “And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.

“OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

Reporter: “You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? (inaudible) understand what you’re saying.”

Trump: “No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people – neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them.

“But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know – I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.”

President Trump made it very clear that his comment did not pertain to “neo-Nazis and the white nationalists.” When a reporter misinterpreted his very clear statement, Trump again made it clear that the bad people were the “neo-Nazis, white nationalists.”

How much clearer could the president be?

The press continually misreports Trump’s statements. Take the recent smearing of Trump over the claim that he ignored the outstretched hand of a disabled, young boy. In fact, the video was selectively edited. Trump had actually had just spent time talking with the boy.

Or the claim in such news outlets as Politico that, “The president signs [a kid’s hat] and then tosses the hat into the crowd.” The statement was simply false. From another angle it was clear that the president was tossing the hat back to the boy, and some in the media ran corrections. But the problem is that the media was so readily willing to believe the worst about the president.

Many apparently still believe that Trump made fun of a disabled NY Times reporter during last year’s campaign when in fact, Trump only used a type of gesture that he often used to make fun of people flaying away when faced with tough questioning. Trump used the gesture to make fun of himself as well as others, including Sen. Ted Cruz. 

The mainstream media keeps trying to claim that neo-Nazis, who are socialists, are somehow “right-wingers” and naturally support Trump and Republicans. But the very tiny number of neo-Nazis in our country have political views on economic issues that are much closer to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) than to Trump’s. Their views on race are just as far away from Trump as they are from Sanders.

Does the press just think that no one will look at what Trump actually said? For those who do look at the original interview and Trump’s multiple, clear statements on the matter, the media risks losing what little credibility it still has.

John R. Lott Jr., Ph.D. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author, most recently, of “The War on Guns” (Regnery, 2016).

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bernie Sanders Charlottesville Donald Trump John Lott Ted Cruz Virginia
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