The Lie That Won’t Die: Trump And The ‘Very Fine People’ in Charlottesville

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  • 09/21/2022

“How can I see anything but four? Two plus two equals four.”

The words of Winston Smith (Orwell, 1984) during his “reeducation” by Big Brother.

The instructor – administering an electric shock to Smith's first answer – responds: “sometimes two plus two is four, but sometimes it’s five or even three.”

"...sometimes two plus two is four, but sometimes it’s five or even three"

The establishment media in 2019 – historically tasked with investigating and promulgating truth – have embraced an Orwellian duplicity, or even multiplicity, in a broad effort to disparage our president as a bigot.

Despite crystal-clear video and transcript evidence, news anchors and writers vigorously, unashamedly propagate the lie that President Trump referred to neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 as “very fine people.” 

They found a fresh news angle to resuscitate this myth because former Vice-President Joe Biden brazenly commenced his presidential bid with this lie.

But, because two plus two actually does equal four, here is the transcript evidence of what President Trump actually said about Charlottesville in that Trump Tower press conference:

“ also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group – excuse me, excuse me, I saw the same pictures you did.  You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of the park from Robert E. Lee to another name. “

Shortly after, responding to another question, he became even more explicit:

“I am not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”

Moreover, the attendance of such “fine people” who believed in monument preservation, but rejected neo-Nazis, was established by contemporaneous New York Times reporting that described a “conservative group that opposed the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.”  These people, according to the Times, “had no interest in standing with Nazis or white supremacists.” 

The record inarguably shows that the president unequivocally denounced neo-Nazis and correctly described a large crowd of attendees in which plenty of bad actors and “fine people” alike lined up on opposing sides of the monument debate. It seems that such clarity would end the debate over Trump’s words and, in fact, force the media to confront Biden over his blatant manipulation. 

But instead, most of the media doubled down. 

[caption id="attachment_176117" align="alignnone" width="3043"] Charlottesville Candlelight Vigil at the White House, Washington, DC USA[/caption]

The Washington Post referred to me as a “Charlottesville truther.” In addition, many shows repeatedly aired deceptively-edited video clips which truncated President Trump’s remarks to end with “both sides” and then showed neo-Nazi marchers. They routinely leave out Trump’s elaboration condemning white supremacists.

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace propagandized that “President Trump repeatedly hedged in his condemnation of the white supremacists.” 

Why must Trump’s opponents in media perpetuate the calumny that Trump is a racist? 

This reaction raises an important question: When confronted with such conclusive evidence that Biden is lying and that the Trump Charlottesville narrative is a myth, why does the media insist on complicity with this hoax? Why must Trump’s opponents in media perpetuate the calumny that Trump is a racist? 

I believe the answer lies in the widespread befuddlement unveiled since the Mueller Report and its total exoneration on the key macro issue of conspiracy/cooperation with Russia. The president’s enemies bought fully into the chimera that Trump was compromised by Russia, and perhaps even a traitorous foreign agent.

[caption id="attachment_176114" align="alignnone" width="1200"] President Donald Trump meets with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Oval Office, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)[/caption]

As quickly as that absurd fallacy receded, the necessity of branding Trump a bigot ascended. After all, running against this president on policy presents an impossible task, particularly for this Democratic field of dullards. So, rather than flail against Trump’s record – economic growth, judicial appointments, restrained and peaceful interactions abroad – better to somehow smear him as an unworthy racist.   

Paradoxically, this media defamation carries particular urgency given the recent successes of minority Americans under Trump’s leadership. Black jobless rates stand at all-time lows. Same for Hispanics, who disproportionately benefit from the small business resurgence of the Trump economic boom, vaulting Hispanic wage growth above that of whites.

Latino voters have rallied to Trump, with surging poll approval numbers well above 40 per cent.

From 2016 to 2018, according to the New York Times, wage increases for Hispanic men outpaced any other group, with an astounding 4.6 per cent growth rate. Predictably, in reaction to such results, Latino voters have rallied to Trump, with surging poll approval numbers well above 40 per cent.

Trump's outperformance among these minority voters in 2020 would practically guarantee his reelection, hence the frantic campaign to besmirch him as a bigot.

But here is the reality: that racist smear is a lie.

An unsubstantiated slander that damages our public discourse and further erodes trust in an incredibly biased press. Just as the Russia conspiracy narrative failed under reasoned scrutiny, so too will this fable fall apart. 

Our already-polarized country needs better from our media. A society must honor the truth to be just and free. As Winston from 1984 states later in the book: “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

Steve Cortes is a CNN Political Commentator. He served on President Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council and was named to the 2020 Trump Re-Election Campaign Media Advisory Committee.