After Trump mocks the U.S. government's Trail of Tears genocide, some media figures shrug

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

On February 9, President Donald Trump tweeted an attack on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that not-so-subtly joked about the Trail of Tears, a horrifying chapter of American history in which the U.S. government forced thousands of Native Americans to make a genocidal relocation march. But some in the media have glossed over or ignored Trump’s racist mockery of the genocide.

Following Warren’s formal announcement that she will be running for president in 2020, Trump revived one of his go-to racist attacks, referring to her as “Pocahontas” and promising to see her “on the campaign TRAIL”:

Many journalists were quick to point out that Trump’s capitalization of “TRAIL” in the last sentence of the tweet is a reference to the Trail of Tears. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson -- whom Trump admires greatly -- forced thousands of Native Americans to abandon their land and march more than a thousand miles to make way for white settlers. Thousands of Native Americans died during the march, which is remembered by the Cherokee Nation as the “trail where they cried.”

After Trump sent out the tweet, his son Donald Trump Jr. posted a screenshot of it and a callous response to Instagram, writing, "Savage!!! Love my President”:

Savage!!! Love my President.

A post shared by Donald Trump Jr. (@donaldjtrumpjr) on

In some discussions of the tweet, media reacted to the Trumps’ racism and casual disregard for atrocity with indifference or even ignored it all together. For example, on February 10, segments of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters and NBC’s Today both showed the tweet without making any mention of the reference to the Trail of Tears. The February 10 edition of MSNBC Live also showed the tweet, but the panel did not mention the reference to genocide and guest Ned Ryun immediately turned to bashing Warren instead of Trump. Fox & Friends Sunday went even further, with co-host Pete Hegseth attempting to defend Trump by claiming, “No one is making fun of the fact that people suffered and died. Like, you can recognize a historical tragedy while at the same time also making fun of someone who misrepresented themselves.”

This isn’t the first time that media figures and outlets have glossed over, downplayed, or defended Trump’s racism. Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of the media’ repeatedly lowering the bar on when to hold the president accountable.