Reporters have been fervently asking President Donald Trump to denounce white supremacy since Tuesday night’s debate, when he told the violent far-right street gang the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” But to be honest, this request is getting repetitive, and there’s a better way for the press to make its point: Connect the dots between Trump’s response to these questions and his continued white supremacist rhetoric even after the debate, at his Wednesday night rally in Duluth, Minnesota.
And so far, a handful of media outlets are on the right track.
“Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp — and he said that,” Trump falsely claimed at his rally, “overwhelming public resources, overcrowding schools, and inundating your hospitals.”
He also attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who immigrated to America during childhood as a refugee from Somalia — with his supporters engaging in their signature chant of “Lock her up” — as he then said Omar “tells us how to run our country.”
On Thursday morning’s edition of CNN’s New Day, co-anchor John Berman made the connection during a panel discussion. “While the president says, you know, ‘Oh, I’ve always condemned that,’ without saying what it is — while he refuses to say the words ‘white supremacists’ — he's using language again that will delight white supremacists. He went to Minnesota and held a rally there, and attacked Ilhan Omar, the first woman Muslim ever elected to Congress, and warned of refugee camps in Minnesota.”
After showing a clip, Berman explained further: “The part there that is, honestly, it’s part of the lexicon of white supremacist groups and the way that the Proud Boys talk — ‘our country, our country.’ As if this U.S. member of Congress, who happens to have a skin color different than most of the Proud Boys, isn't part of ‘our country.’”
A similar discussion occurred during CNN Newsroom, with co-anchor Jim Sciutto contrasting Trump’s “milquetoast disassociation of himself with white supremacy” when speaking Wednesday with reporters on the White House lawn with the “very explicit attack — repeated attack, and one he's done before — against a sitting woman of color on Congress, Ilhan Omar, the crowd chanting ‘Lock her up.’”
The juxtaposition was also noted on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, both in an intro segment by the anchor and then a discussion with NBC News correspondent Geoff Bennett.
“And yet even as he was trying to clean that up on the South Lawn, talking to reporters, hours later in Duluth … he was still stirring racist and xenophobic sentiment, suggesting that Joe Biden wants to turn Minnesota into a refugee camp,” said Bennett. “And what he was referring to there is that Minnesota has a large community of Somali Americans. And so even there, the president was still digging a whole for himself, as many of his aides and allies see it.”
The New York Times also has an article Thursday on Trump’s remarks in Minnesota:
A day after he refused to condemn white supremacists at the first presidential debate, President Trump unleashed a xenophobic attack on Representative Ilhan Omar at a rally in Minnesota Wednesday night, accusing her of telling “us” — meaning his overwhelmingly white audience — “how to run our country.”
One outlet that has fallen short is Politico, which had an article on Trump’s rally that also mentioned his debate comments about white supremacy — but failed to make the connection.
The second paragraph of the piece notes: “Unlike the previous night, when he was criticized for refusing to condemn white supremacists and for deploying his pugnacious style on the debate stage, Wednesday marked a return to his rallies, where he receives little pushback and tons of applause and feeds off the energy of his base.”
It was not until the 22nd paragraph — the second-to-last of the piece — that the article noted Trump was “falsely claiming Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wanted to flood the state with refugees and inundate the state’s schools and hospitals with immigrants.” And there was no mention at all of the attacks on Omar or the crowd’s chants of “Lock her up.”
And if other media outlets just keep asking Trump the same questions over and over again, rather than picking up on what he’s continuing to tell his supporters, nobody is going to make any progress at informing the public as to what he’s really doing.