During a panel discussion on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday night, the chyron claimed, “Trump denounces racism from alt-right movement.” It was simply untrue.
This weekend’s white nationalist conference in Washington, D.C. ended with Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer shouting, “Heil Trump, Heil our people, Heil Victory,” as the crowd joined him in Nazi salutes. President-elect Donald Trump has done nothing to denounce this behavior nor distance himself from Spencer’s brand of allegiance, but his supporters think he has.
The chyron ran for the entire segment, while most of the panelists said the opposite and explained why it wasn’t true. Trump surrogate Kayleigh McEnany insisted, however, that “President-Elect Trump has repeatedly denounced racists more than any candidate in this race.” On a day that CNN had already received blowback for its “Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews Are People” chyron, the chyron accompanying this discussion seemed to treat McEnany’s claims as gospel, without a shred of evidence to support it.
The only comment Trump’s transition team issued about the conference came from Bryan Lanza, who insisted that Trump has been denouncing racism all along. Interestingly, that’s all he claims. Lanza, like McEnany, doesn’t actually say that Trump denounced any one specific thing, let alone a conference full of white nationalists claiming him as one of their own.
Trump transition statement on alt right conference where neo nazis and white nationalists were praising Trump’s election pic.twitter.com/XZCxVSS6Jt
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 21, 2016
For Trump to “continue to denounce racism,” there would have to be substantial evidence of him actually repeatedly denouncing racism, and there just isn’t. When asked, for example, about the hundreds of hate incidents that have been reported since Election Day, all that he said was, “Stop it.” He didn’t actually condemn racism, he didn’t call for a great coming together, and he didn’t urge people to actually respect each other or celebrate diversity. If anything, he admitted that he was fairly oblivious that anything was happening, let alone the scale of the incidents. And he had to be asked by an interviewer to say that much.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) November 14, 2016
And that seems to be the only example of Trump saying anything about hate — certainly, post election. He’s certainly said far more about what the cast of Hamilton said to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence, how Saturday Night Live portrayed him this weekend, or that the New York Times was “not nice” for allegedly changing the conditions of a meeting with him.
As the panel in that CNN discussion mentioned, Trump is actually personally responsible for promulgating racism, such as his comments about Mexicans being rapists at the launch of his campaign or his commitment to banning Muslims from entering the country. He hasn’t apologized for any of those remarks either; in fact, both the wall along the border with Mexico and the registry for Muslims both appear to still be on the table.
To claim that he didn’t say those things and that he has always denounced racism is blatant gaslighting.