President Donald Trump gave a heated press conference on Tuesday when journalists confronted him on his initial response to the
The August 15 press conference was intended to discuss infrastructure, but quickly devolved into a conference regarding the
Trump responded that his hesitance was because he, “unlike most politicians,” wanted to be sure that he did not “make a quick statement” and instead had all of the facts before issuing an official response.
“You don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts,” he said. “And it takes a little while to get the facts.”
“You still don’t know the facts,” Trump added, reminding the reporters that they have been quick to jump the gun on their reporting of the protests without telling the full story.
When called upon to elaborate, Trump remarked that the media has wholly ignored the violence from the Antifa protesters at the rally and instead presented the weekend’s violence as one-sided at the hands of the alt-right.
“Okay … what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked of the reporters who repeatedly pushed him to repudiate only those who were affiliated with the Unite the Right rally and not the so-called counter-protesters.
He continued, “What about this? What about the fact that they came charging — they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Trump also asked the reporters to define the term “alt-right” in an effort to highlight the fact that the mainstream media has unfairly used alt-right and conservative or right-wing interchangeably.
“When you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. Define it for me,” he asked. The reporters refused to answer.
Trump also reminded reporters that the Unite the Right marchers had a permit and had a right to be at the park this weekend and that the counter-protesters who descended on them did not. It’s unclear who initiated the violence, but that has not stopped the mainstream media from reporting that the violence was at the hands of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, labels that the press seems to have assigned all of the Unite the Right protesters.
Trump called out the “fake news” reporters for impugning all of the marchers at the Unite the Right rally for the behavior of a few, and labeling all of them as white supremacists.
“Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” he told reporters. “Those people were also there, because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue Robert E. Lee. So — excuse me — and you take a look at some of the groups and you see, and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not.”
The reporters continued to push the president on his statement that there was hatred and violence on both sides of the rally, despite what the skewed media coverage contends, to which he responded,
You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats — you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.
The president emphasized once more that he is not referring to the neo-Nazis or white supremacists affiliated with the march when he speaks of the media’s unfair treatment, but instead to those who were at the march to protest the removal of the Lee statue. “I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally,” he reiterated.
And still, the reporters acted deliberately obtuse. One reporter retorted, “I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?”
Trump also used the opportunity to criticize the social justice movement for its revisionist history efforts that prompted the Unite the Right rally in the first place.
“So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” “You’re changing history, you’re changing culture,” he said.
But when asked whether he believed the Robert E. Lee statue should remain in place, Trump observed that in this case it was a local issue, and such decisions should be up to the local community or the federal government, depending on where the statue is located.
Photo: AP Images