President Donald Trump’s infrastructure presser quickly descended into a heated exchange with the news media, which are still unsatisfied with his remarks about the horrific violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. The New York Times reported that Tuesday's presser saw the president giving white nationalists a boost:
President Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations — equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and “Trump/Pence” signs.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth,” David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, wrote in a Twitter post shortly after Mr. Trump spoke.
Richard B. Spencer, a white nationalist leader who participated in the weekend’s demonstrations and vowed to flood Charlottesville with similar protests in the coming weeks, was equally encouraged. “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth,” Mr. Spencer tweeted.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, a Democrat, wasted little time in accusing the president of adding to the divisions that put an unwanted spotlight on the normally peaceful college town.
“Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred and looking for a fight,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not ‘both sides.’”
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 15, 2017
Saturday's violence and tragic loss of life was a direct consequence of the hateful rhetoric & action from white supremacists demonstrating.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 15, 2017
Race-based supremacy movements have no place in our melting pot culture. #Charlottesville— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 15, 2017
They do not reflect the ideals enshrined in our Constitution that treats and respects every American equally.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 15, 2017
Last Saturday, scores of people were hospitalized after far right and far left groups clashed in the city. White nationalists descended into the area to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Clashes between the two groups escalated, with one attack involving a car plowing into counter protesters. Nineteen people were injured with one woman dying of her injuries. The driver, 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr., has been charged with second-degree murder.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tweeted “there can be no moral ambiguity” in the fight against the repulsive nature of white supremacy. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reiterated the sentiments of the speaker, saying, “Race-based supremacy movements have no place in our melting pot culture.” Katie and Cortney wrote about the intense presser.
Yes, both sides are awful. There is no moral high ground to be found. Antifa and their left wing thugs are horrible. The white nationalist groups are scum. Both sides engaged in violence that left people injured and one killed. You cannot criticize the extremist rhetoric in our political discourse without mentioning the far left. At the same time, where the president tripped up is that in this instance, it was a white nationalist who plowed through a crowd and killed people. We’re going to do this merry-go-round again with the media, but this whole notion that yesterday was the sum of all fears regarding Trump as president is crap. Let’s not forget that the national media gave the man around $2 billion in free media.
"...Which is why we provided him with on demand media requests & aired his empty podium for hours on end during the election & primaries" pic.twitter.com/WvACIGmzZY— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) August 16, 2017