Several right-wing media figures are defending Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s criticisms of Khizr and Ghazala Khan -- the parents of a fallen U.S. Army captain -- following their Democratic National Convention speech in which they condemned Trump. After Donald Trump lashed out at the Khan family, right-wing media figures defended him by claiming Trump had been “set up” by the media, and that the Khan family had brought it upon themselves by appearing at the Democratic National Convention.
Donald Trump Criticizes The Khan Family
Donald Trump Criticizes The Khan Family. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “pick[ed] a fight with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq,” following their speech at the Democratic National Convention in which Khizr criticized Trump and specifically called out his anti-Muslim rhetoric. On the July 31 edition of ABC’s This Week, Trump suggested that Ghazala Khan was not allowed to speak while appearing alongside her husband at the convention, and diminished the death of the Khans’ son by claiming that he, too, had “made a lot of sacrifices” for his country. Trump eventually took to Twitter to say Khan had “viciously attacked” him. Trump’s “sustained hostility toward the Khans” drew criticism of members of the Republican Party. [NPR.org, 8/1/16]
Right-Wing Media Figures Defend Trump, Smear The Khan Family
Scottie Nell Hughes On CNN’s New Day: Stephanopoulos’ Questions About Khan Were A “Setup” To Trap Trump. While appearing as a guest on the July 31 edition of CNN’s New Day, Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes defended Trump’s criticisms of the Khan family by saying ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ “ulterior motive was to trap Donald Trump":
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES: Interesting Victor that you brought up “didn’t see.” And that is the point that we need to make here. This has not aired yet. All that we see are the clips that are being released from ABC, George Stephanopoulos, a former advisor, director of communication underneath Bill Clinton -- all we are seeing are the clips they’re putting out to tease their segment today. And I’ll be honest with you, Victor, when this first came out yesterday, I actually said “Mr. Trump’s wrong. He should sit there and have some more empathy for -- “ but now that I’ve read the questions, and the Trump campaign and others have released the full transcript you can see what a setup this is, with which nothing but to trap Mr. Trump, going forward --
VICTOR BLACKWELL (HOST): Well let me ask you, you mentioned that the full release and I got it here, that was put on the website, on Donald J Trump dot com, setting the record straight is what they called it. Stephanopoulos asked, “what would you say to that father?” How was that a setup?
HUGHES: Well, because it goes, “What would you say to that father” then, without taking a break he says, “what sacrifice have you made for your country?”
BLACKWELL: That’s inaccurate. I have it in my hand, from the Trump campaign. He says, “what would you say to that father?” Trump says, “well, I’d say we have a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism.” Why not in that moment say, “I am sorry for this family’s loss and we honor his service?”
HUGHES: Because he said that earlier, prior in the interview on that, and like I said we continue to empathize with them. What I’m talking about is farther on down the transcript. When he put the two together, when he says “what would you say to that father, what sacrifices have you made for your country?” Stephanopoulos continues to push for an answer because it’s obvious that his ulterior motive was to trap Mr. Trump like they have successfully done, control the media, because they know that right now the Democrats have a major issue with the military vote after they got booed off, their military general was booed and harassed on the stage of the DNC this week. This is nothing but a hit job done on Mr. Trump. [CNN, New Day, 7/31/16]
CNN’s Jeffrey Lord: The Khan Family Was “Opening Themselves Up To Disagreement.” CNN contributor and Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord dismissed Trump’s criticism of the Khan family by saying “this is politics.” He went on to argue that, by speaking at the Democratic National Convention, the Khan family had opened “themselves up to disagreement,” and suggested that “if [Khan] doesn’t want to be in the spotlight” he ought to “stop” speaking out. From the August 1 edition of CNN’s New Day:
POPPY HARLOW (HOST): Jeffrey Lord, as a Trump supporter, to what General Hertling just said, and we just read the letter from the Gold Star families demanding an apology from Donald Trump, your response?
JEFFREY LORD: Yeah, this is politics. I mean, I hate to say this -- and let me make very clear -- Captain Khan obviously, obviously was an American hero. But to be perfectly candid, any time anybody, anybody, the Khans or anyone else, stands in front of a Democratic or Republican National Convention and delivers a political attack against a candidate, they are opening themselves up to disagreement. And that's what's happened. It's nothing more than that.
HARLOW: So, the question -- the question, Jeffrey -- well, it is more than that, because this is the life of a fallen American soldier --
LORD: No, Poppy, I'm afraid not.
MARK HERTLING: It is definitely more than that, Jeffrey. It is more than politics, it is leadership.
HARLOW: And it is more than that in terms of how it has affected these other families. There are over 470,000 Gold Star families in this country right now. And I don't know their loss, many of us don't know their loss. So it's more than politics, isn't it, Jeffrey Lord?
LORD: No, Poppy, Poppy, when anybody, anybody, Gold Star or not, gets up and attacks a presidential candidate at a national convention, that is politics. Mr. Khan, and I listened to him this morning, is giving Donald Trump political lectures. I have my copy of the Constitution too. He is well within his rights to do so. Donald Trump is well within his rights to respond. You don't get to do this and then say, “Oh, no, you can't attack me, I'm off limits. I'm sorry.” Your very presence there signifies otherwise. You are in a leadership position when you are making an attack on a presidential candidate at a national convention. That's just a fact.
HARLOW: At what point, Jeffrey Lord, is it a bridge too far? The feud is continuing on Twitter this morning, we just had a tweet from Donald Trump saying, again, he's being “viciously attacked.” What does it get him --
LORD: The best way to do this is just stop doing it. Why him? Why is Mr. Khan on CNN? Why is he on CBS? Why is he on ABC? I mean, he's the one who's continuing this. Stop, stop. If he doesn't want to be in the spotlight, stop. [CNN, New Day, 8/1/16]
CNN’s Lewandowski Defended Trump’s Attacks On The Khan Family. CNN commentator and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski defended Trump’s attacks on the Khan family by saying that if Trump were president “Captain Khan would still be alive today” because the U.S. would not have gone to war in Iraq. He added that Trump is justified in his “ability to respond” when “someone attacks” publicly. From the August 1 edition of CNN’s New Day:
POPPY HARLOW (CO-HOST): Why the continuing the fight right now with the [Khan] family?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI: He's not fighting with the family. He's gone on and said that --
LEWANDOWSKI: -- Captain Khan is a hero. He said that publicly. You tend to glaze over that notion. But he said it very publicly that he's a hero.
HARLOW: I'm not glazing over it. I mean, we can pull that statement up, absolutely.
LEWANDOWSKI: So you need to remind people that he said that.
HARLOW: He said it in a statement from the campaign.
LEWANDOWSKI: That’s right.
HARLOW: He hasn't come out himself and said it.
LEWANDOWSKI: He said it from his Twitter account. Those are his words that he said. “Captain Khan is a hero.” So either they are his words or not his words.
HARLOW: So why five minutes ago did he tweet, “He viciously attacked me?”
LEWANDOWSKI: Because what he's saying is -- look, he said Captain Khan is a hero. The difference is if Donald Trump were the president, Captain Khan would still be alive today because we never would have entered the Iraq war in the first place. He's been very clear about that. Number two, what he has said was that this is something that the Khan family decided to engage in by going to the Democratic convention and telling their story. They're welcome to do that. But Mr. Trump has the ability to respond.
JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): Corey, would you have advised him when you were campaign manager, would you have advised him to bring up the silence of the grieving mother after the fact? Is that advice you would have given?
LEWANDOWSKI: Here's what I would say to him. When someone attacks you publicly in front of a stage of millions of people, you have the ability to respond. Now, this is a very sensitive issue.
CHRISTINE QUINN: She didn't say a word. She didn't say a word.
LEWANDOWSKI: Their son -- excuse me.
QUINN: No, this is ridiculous. No, it is outrageously un-American.
LEWANDOWSKI: Their son made the ultimate sacrifice, and he understands that and he called him a hero. But he does have the ability when someone attacks him personally and accuses him of something which he did not -- has never done, which they said he's never read the Constitution, which is not true. He has the ability to respond. [CNN, New Day, 8/1/16]
Roger Stone Called Khizr Khan A “Muslim Brotherhood Agent.” Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally and adviser, tweeted on July 31 that Khan is “more than an aggrieved father of a Muslim son- he's Muslim Brotherhood agent helping Hillary.” In subsequent tweets, Stone claimed that Khizr Khan is “traced to the same radical Muslim group” as Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and is “tied to Saudi Jihadis.” [Media Matters, 8/1/16]
Fox’s Lou Dobbs Pushed Roger Stone’s Anti-Khan Conspiracies On Twitter. On July 31, Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs pushed discredited researcher Roger Stone’s conspiracy theory that Khizr Khan is part of a “radical Muslim group.”
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) August 1, 2016