When taking questions today as he signed his first veto, President Trump was asked about whether he sees a “rising threat” around the world from “white nationalism.”
Below, you can see his answer that he does not see a “rising threat”, and that he thinks it is only a “handful” of people. As you can see, the reporter who asked the question didn’t ask a follow-up, so the question and the answer stood on their own. A different reporter asked a related question, also in our clip. Below the video, some of the reactions to this relatively brief pair of exchanges.
First, here’s the video.
“I don’t really.” He answered. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess, if you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing. A terrible thing.”
Democratic candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand flipped out on him on Twitter, basically blaming him for the threat.
At Time, they wrote that he “downplayed the global threat of white nationalism” whereas other national leaders “condemned far-right extremism and racism” in the wake of the horrific mass killing.
From the Washington Post, this:
The responses Friday by Trump and other U.S. politicians to the New Zealand tragedy divided heavily along partisan lines. While many Republicans de-emphasized the role of white nationalist ideology, some Democrats suggested, either directly or indirectly, that Trump’s history of anti-Muslim remarks and policies contributed to the tragedy.
The AP framed it this way:
President Donald Trump played down any threat posed by racist white nationalism on Friday after the gunman accused of the New Zealand mosque massacre called the president “a symbol of renewed white identity.”
Trump, whose own previous responses to the movement have drawn scrutiny, expressed sympathy for the victims who died at “places of worship turned into scenes of evil killing.” But he declined to join expressions of mounting concern about white nationalism, saying “I don’t, really” when asked whether he thought it was a rising threat around the world.
The AP also had this:
The White House immediately denounced the connection. But the mention from the suspect, who embraced Nazi imagery and voiced support for fascism, nonetheless cast an uncomfortable light on the way that the president has been endorsed by some on the far right.
Blogger and co-founder of Vox Matt Yglesias tweeted about it…
Why won’t prominent white nationalist leader Donald Trump condemn white nationalism? 🤔— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) March 15, 2019
… and so did thousands of other people. You can also try searching social media for the words “downplayed” or “played down” and you’ll find hundreds of results.
There are dozens of news reports about this question and answer, but the AFP had maybe the most actively snide headline here. “Trump dismisses white nationalism threat after NZealand killings” it reads. “Dismisses.”
Does “dismisses” sound right to you?