Back in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama created a firestorm when he told an upscale fundraising audience in tony San Francisco that “you go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years… and it’s not surprising then they get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion.”
Of course, many of us view “clinging” to the Second Amendment and to religious faith as fundamental cornerstones of a worthwhile life as conscientious and free citizens of America. But regardless, Obama clearly intended the description as a condescending pejorative.
“I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”
Well, the “bitter clingers” now include luminaries of the left – media mavens and Democratic politicians desperately clutching on to their debunked myth about Charlottesville and President Trump, the “fine people hoax.”
For two years since the tragic, violent events of August 2017 in Charlottesville, media figures have shamefully pushed the lie that President Trump praised the white supremacists who gathered there as “very fine people.” Any honest review of the full transcript and video of that now-infamous Trump Tower press conference reveals, in total clarity, that he excluded bigots from his praise – and, in fact, singled them out for his scorn. Trump unambiguously declared: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”
Even though “condemned totally” leaves no room for interpretation, the anti-Trump “resistance” made Charlottesville the centerpiece of their vile narrative that Trump and our whole 2016 America First movement flows from racism. In recent months, the Charlottesville hoax spread like a pandemic after former Vice-President Biden launched his 2020 presidential campaign on this scurrilous premise.
Consequently, I joined with Dennis Prager to create a video for his online instructional site Prager U, to debunk the myth that our president praised Nazis. Despite serious efforts by Big Tech firms to suppress my video, it went viral, reaching 4.7 million views in just the first week. Because of this success, media figures are now contesting my careful analysis, and striving to protect their big lie.
In most critiques, like this one from Caleb Ecarma of Mediaite, the primary refutation lies in dismissing the existence of non-racist, pro-statue protestors cited by President Trump. In my video I note that even the rabidly anti-Trump New York Times identified and interviewed precisely such a person, Michelle Piercy, who stated that “good people can go to Charlottesville.” She was described as conservative and pro-monument and explained that Trump had “channeled her and her friends… who had no interest in standing with Nazis or white supremacists.”
It seems eminently reasonable to believe the shared conclusion of such varied media sources, some of which harbor systemic anti-Trump bias. But what if the New York Times, Katie Couric, Jake Tapper, and CNN are all wrong?
Ecarma and others seek to discredit this woman because of her ties to a militia group that also traveled to Charlottesville. Ample video footage does indeed show armed militia members present at the protests. Conservative people, to be sure, and some perhaps quite far right, but these groups did function as de facto neutral security at the event, especially since local police proved so ineffective. Even the Trump-antagonizing Washington Post acknowledged varying beliefs among militia members, titling an article just weeks after the riot: “Don’t Assume the Militias at the Charlottesville Rally Were White Supremacists.” Moreover, Ms. Piercy’s affiliation with a militia group hardly cancels out her clearly-stated premise for heading to Charlottesville.
In addition, other sources corroborate the New York Times account. For instance, former Charlottesville resident and NBC anchor Katie Couric wrote about that fateful weekend for National Geographic. Couric profiled people like Frank Earnest who traveled to Charlottesville from Virginia Beach and “made a passionate argument for keeping the [Robert E. Lee] statue in place, saying it paid homage to Southerners, and his very own Confederate ancestors.” But, Mr. Earnest disavowed the hateful Unite the Right protestors who had “coopted the symbol of Lee to advance a very different agenda.” Sure sounds like “fine people…on both sides,” doesn’t it?
Further, just last week, my CNN colleague Jake Tapper acknowledged the clear reality of Trump’s 2017 Charlottesville comments, observing “so he’s [Trump’s] not saying that the neo-Nazis and white supremacists are very fine people.”
It seems eminently reasonable to believe the shared conclusion of such varied media sources, some of which harbor systemic anti-Trump bias. But what if the New York Times, Katie Couric, Jake Tapper, and CNN are all wrong? What if, among the thousands present that weekend in Charlottesville, there were not even one pro-statue, non-racist protestor present? My answer: so what? Trump still expressly and unequivocally condemned white supremacists. The very worst that one can conclude about the President is that he got the crowd composition wrong. Even if that were true, the Fine People Hoax would still represent a malignant lie, a calumny spread by a cabal of blatantly biased actors hell-bent on slandering this president and our movement.
In fact, this damnable lie has become the great deception of the decade. By fooling tens of millions of Americans into believing that our commander-in-chief actually praised Nazis, the Democratic media complex betrayed journalistic ethics and poisoned our political dialogue. Why? Without the ludicrous Russia narrative to attack President Trump anymore, Democratic politicians and their media allies needed another line of attack; thus, they quickly pivoted to the narrative that Trump is a racist, with the Charlottesville Lie at the center of their slander.
But the massive success of the PragerU video proves the actual thirst in our country for accuracy in reporting. The leftist activists masquerading as journalists recoil at revelations of their duplicity. They so “bitterly cling’ to their delusion, because they know very well that, on the merits, they have little hope to defeat Trump in 2020. Nor will their disparagement derail the long-term success of our anti-establishment, America First movement.
Steve Cortes is a CNN Political Commentator and serves on the President Trump Hispanic Advisory Council.