Media figures criticized Donald Trump’s response to the EgyptAir crash saying that it was “totally irresponsible” and “bad practice” for Trump to blame the crash on terrorism despite having no information at the time. Meanwhile, Fox News defended Trump’s “strong statement,” and praised him for saying “exactly what’s on everyone’s mind.”
Trump Blames EgyptAir Crash On Terrorism, Despite The Ongoing Investigation
CNN: “Trump Blamed Terrorism” For EgyptAir Crash “Even Though Authorities Are Still Investigating The Cause.” CNN reported that Donald Trump “blamed terrorism for the EgyptAir Flight 804 crash in a tweet … even though authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash.” The report added, “It was approximately two hours after Trump's tweet was posted that the Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said they were not ruling out any possibilities,” including “‘terrorism or … the possibility of technical fault.’” From the May 19 CNN report:
Donald Trump blamed terrorism for the EgyptAir Flight 804 crash in a tweet posted early Thursday morning, even though authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash.
“Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!” the presumptive GOP nominee tweeted at about 6:30 a.m. ET.
Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2016
It was approximately two hours after Trump's tweet was posted that the Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said they were not ruling out any possibilities yet.
“We do not deny there is a possibility of terrorism or deny the possibility of technical fault,” Fathy said. “I will continue to use the term 'missing plane' until we find any debris.” [CNN.com, 5/19/16]
Media Condemn Trump’s “Totally Irresponsible” Tweet
The Atlantic: “Trump’s Tweet Is ... Totally Irresponsible” And “Bad Practice.” The Atlantic’s David Graham wrote that “Trump’s tweet is at once totally irresponsible and politically wily,” adding that it is “bad practice” to speculate on the cause of a deadly crash “in the absence of any particular information.” From the May 19 Atlantic article:
Disasters serve as the crucibles in which leaders are tested, and the disappearance of EgyptAir 804—though less than 24 hours old—is already serving that purpose in the presidential race.
Trump’s tweet is at once totally irresponsible and politically wily. Speculating on the cause of a crash that killed 66 people, in the absence of any particular information—and Trump makes no claim to have inside information—is bad practice. A president shooting from the hip this way could have catastrophic consequences in international diplomacy or management of the economy. (See, for example, Trump’s apparently unconsidered assertion that he’d meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions, which rattled foreign-policy hands and which even Trump’s closest allies struggled to defend.) [The Atlantic, 5/19/16]
The Daily Telegraph: Trump’s EgyptAir Response “Points To The Dangers Of An Unfiltered President.” Daily Telegraph correspondent Nick Allen noted that Trump did not “have a crystal ball in the EgyptAir case” and was “just guessing” when he tweeted. Allen pointed out that this is another statement Trump made “without any reference to conventions, or the historic and current diplomatic positions of the country he hopes to lead,” adding that with “such an unpredictable president … It’s easy to see turmoil ensuing.” From a May 20 Telegraph article:
[W]ith Mr Trump there is no pausing for thought before the knee-jerk tweet, no internal filter before the bombshell comment on live television.
Again and again he has made spontaneous pronouncements without any reference to conventions, or the historic and current diplomatic positions of the country he hopes to lead.
How would the world react to such an unpredictable president? How would the financial markets react? How long before a late night tweet threatens nuclear war? It's easy to see turmoil ensuing.
Did Mr Trump have a crystal ball in the EgyptAir case? No, he was just guessing. [The Daily Telegraph, 5/20/16]
Wash. Post: Trump “Played Politics” Despite “Probably” Having “No Immediate Access To The Specific Information” From Authorities. Washington Post foreign affairs writer Ishaan Tharoor explained “instead of offering condolences to those likely lost aboard the missing plane, or expressing solidarity with the governments now conducting a desperate search mission,” Trump “thought it appropriate to trot out his campaign talking points.” Tharoor pointed out that Trump “is dabbling in speculation” and “probably has no immediate access to the specific information being sifted and gathered by French, Egyptian and Greek investigators.” From a May 19 Washington Post WorldViews article:
To be sure, Trump is dabbling in speculation -- the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 only “looks like” a terrorist attack. But instead of offering condolences to those likely lost aboard the missing plane, or expressing solidarity with the governments now conducting a desperate search mission, the reality-show star aspiring to be leader of a world superpower played politics.
At a moment when panicked families were rushing to find more information from authorities, Trump thought it appropriate to trot out his campaign talking points.
Never mind that Trump probably has no immediate access to the specific information being sifted and gathered by French, Egyptian and Greek investigators. Never mind that he has no jurisdiction over security matters in these countries.
Never mind that we have no idea yet what the hypothetical motives of a phantom militant group may be. And never mind that counterterrorism experts and an array of commentators on both sides of the Atlantic have poured cold water on Trump's proposed policies, such as they are. [The Washington Post, 5/19/16]
Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey: “This Is A Very Cynical Ploy By Trump.” Daily Beast editor Christopher Dickey slammed Trump’s response, calling it “a very cynical ploy.” From the May 19 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (CO-HOST): We don't know what caused this flight to vanish, crash, according to the president of France. But this does impact the conversation on terrorism, Donald Trump tweeting, and this race, which I'm sure is being watched around the world.
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY: Well sure. In fact, the tragedies in Paris, particularly in November, helped launch Trump. He could capitalize on that, on the death of all those people, and say, “We can't let that happen in America and we're going to do all kinds of things, including banning Muslims to stop it from happening.” We were talking earlier off air, wouldn't it have been appropriate for him to tweet some condolences for the people killed? But he's playing to an American audience and there were no Americans killed, as far as we know. If one had been on board that plane he probably would have called up the relatives. This is a very cynical ploy by Trump but we've gotten used to that I think. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 5/19/16]
CNN’s Gloria Borger: “In The World At Large,” Trump’s Response Was “Speculating Without Information” And “Not A Good Thing.” CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger criticized Trump’s response saying that “in the world at large,” it “is not a good thing.” Borger explained that “speculating without information is a bad practice, particularly … if you are one of two people that might be president of the United States.” From the May 19 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360:
JOHN BERMAN (HOST): One tragedy, two very different responses from the front-runners for president. Donald Trump tweeted about this crash early this morning, before any officials said it was likely a terrorist attack. He wrote, quote, “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness.”
Gloria, two contrasts, you know, a very different response from two candidates to say the least.
GLORIA BORGER: Right, and you know, earlier in the day Hillary Clinton had said to Chris Cuomo that Donald Trump was not qualified. So then part of the reason he said she was unfit was he was kind of taking a shot back at her. But look, disasters are the prism through which leaders are tested. And generally, speculating without information is a bad practice, particularly if you are president of the United States, or if you are one of two people that might be president of the United States. And I think, however, Hillary Clinton as we see, her experience points her to more of a silent route. So I think in the world at large, what Trump did is not a good thing, but politically for him, politically it shows that he is strong, that he is anti-terror, that he is willing to tell the truth, and for his supporters it’s not going to hurt. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 5/19/16]
Meanwhile, Fox Figures Defended The “Strong Statement” From Trump
Ainsley Earhardt: Trump Is “Saying Exactly What’s On Everyone’s Mind.” Fox & Friends co-hosts Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade praised Trump for “saying exactly what’s on everyone’s mind” in his tweet. Earhardt continued that “it’s a different temperature now,” arguing that in the post-9/11 world cautiousness is no longer the desired response. From the May 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Meanwhile, about 24 hours ago, Donald Trump was watching the developments and put out, in the 6 a.m. hour, a tweet and it read like this: “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart, and vigilant? Great hate and sickness.”
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): So they’re all all over Donald Trump for saying that so quickly. But he used the term “it looks like another terrorist attack.” So obviously we’re not at the cutting edge of all the intelligence. He's not getting his briefings until he officially gets the nomination. But we always elect presidents that are very typical of the opposite of the president prior. Remember, George W. Bush was too much of a cowboy, in comes the contemplative Ivy League guy, Barack Obama. He’s going to pull it back. Now after seven and a half years of everyone’s thinking about it, and contemplating it and worried about the way we phrase things, you have somebody who comes in there and says what everybody’s thinking. Remember, when Donald Trump came out and said it's time to consider a temporary ban on Muslims, everyone was outraged. His ratings shot through the roof.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): That’s right.
KILMEADE: And by a 2-to-1 margin, Republicans thought he was right.
EARHARDT: It’s a different temperature now. If this were pre 9/11, maybe I could understand why people would think that Hillary is right and the cautiousness is good. But you’re right, he’s saying exactly what’s on everyone’s mind. It’s a different world. We have the World Trade Center, we have San Bernardino, we have Paris, we have Brussels. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/20/16]
Kimberly Guilfoyle: Trump’s Tweet Was “Making A Very Strong Statement.” Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle asserted that Trump’s tweet was “making a very strong statement” by saying that the crash “appears to be a terrorist attack.” From the May 19 edition of Fox News’ On The Record:
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: What do you make of the back and forth and, of course, a lot of focus on our political officials and those like the presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump coming out and making a very strong statement saying that, in fact, this appears to be a terrorist attack?
JASON RILEY: Well, Trump’s staying on message. We’re in the middle of a political campaign. You know, my heart goes out to the families of the grieving. That's not really his style.
RILEY: That's not Donald Trump. A central theme of his campaign from day one has been strength, anti-terrorism on the foreign policy front. And he’s going, that's his message. Obama has been weak, I'll be strong. And he’s sticking to that. [Fox News, On The Record, 5/19/16]
Martha MacCallum: “Trump Has Connected With People In This Country Over His Willingness To Call This As He Sees It And To Talk About Terrorism.” Fox host Martha MacCallum asserted that “Trump has connected with people in this country” through his tweet and “his willingness to call this as he sees it.” From the May 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:
MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): So obviously there is a lot of discussion whether or not this was a terrorist attack. And we don't know the definite answer to that but we do know that Egyptian officials believe that’s what it looks like. You know, whenever there’s a situation like this, candidates, you know, weigh in but it's a difficult territory when you're not in charge and when there is a lot you don't know.
BRET BAIER: Well, that's right. He did say “looks like” in his tweet, but Donald Trump is, using his Twitter account often to push things and thoughts that he has and really the frustration in America has been, if you look at the polls, that the administration perhaps has not said, things were terrorism when they were terrorism clearly, or, has not acknowledged the radical Islamic threat as much as some people believe that it's out there. Now some people will criticize Donald Trump for getting out there early and saying looks like a terrorist attack, when, you know, it might not have been. I think it looks like this one will be but we don't know that officially yet. Officials who are in office often are a lot more cautious. And obviously Hillary Clinton’s a lot more cautious as well. I think it’s a different style and Donald Trump is signaling that he’s going to be aggressive on terrorism. The polls show that people, at least right now, believe him.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. You're right. I mean it is definitely a hallmark of his, of the way he is running for office is to let people know what he thinks. He puts it out there time and time again on Twitter. And people have different opinions about whether or not that is the right way to do it. But clearly he let people know that he thought this was consideration. Now when you look back, the other point that you made, Bret, which is a very good one, is about the fact that Donald Trump has connected with people in this country over his willingness to call this as he sees it and to talk about terrorism, to talk about islamic extremism. In November, during the Paris attacks he did rise quite a bit in the polls during that time when he was talking very tough about the fact that if the people there had had guns, this might have been ended differently. And that kind of talk seems to have been good or beneficial for his campaign. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/19/16]
Lars Larson: “I Like The Fact That” Trump Is “Very Engaged With What’s Going On In A Minute-To-Minute Basis.” Fox guest and conservative talk radio host Lars Larson praised Trump’s tweet saying that unlike President Obama, Trump “seems very engaged with what’s going on in a minute-to-minute basis.” From the May 19 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
MELISSA FRANCIS (HOST): Lars, it would have been more traditional to stand on the sidelines and sort of wait for the tragedy to unfold with what happened withEgyptAir today. But instead, he did the typical thing that original Trump would do, which is to jump into the fray and tweet. And he tweeted: “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!” That was the tweet that he put out. So, I mean, that’s not a pivot.
LARS LARSON: No, it’s not a pivot at all and, in fact, it’s something we haven't seen in eight years. We’ve had a president that seems so disconnected. There have been acts of terrorism even on American soil where our current president has waited hours to respond. I like the fact that a president who seems, or a presidential candidate in Donald Trump, who seems very engaged with what’s going on in a minute-to-minute basis. [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/19/16]