SAN DIEGO, February 28, 2017 — The vicious racketball match between President Donald Trump and the mainstream press continues at a non-stop pace, providing one example after another of what the president calls “fake news.”
The plethora of shameless acts from so-called journalists have only served to numb the public. Who can keep up? While 68 percent of Americans do find the press tougher on Trump than it was on President Obama, according to a recent Fox News poll, we are still losing something in the mix: appropriate resolution when a zealous journalist goes after the newly elected president so enthusiastically that the very question intended to nail him is itself based on a falsehood.
One such question was put forth at the February 21 White House press briefing. Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks, April D. Ryan asked Press Secretary Spicer about President Trump’s visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture:
“What did the president gain from his tour today? You talked about where he visited, the exhibits that he visited. Did he also visit slavery? And the reason why I’m asking is, is because when he was candidate Trump, he said things like ‘we made this country,’ meaning white America, and not necessarily black …”
Spicer shot back a sharp response. “I don’t know why you would say that. What do you mean?”
Only too happy to explain what she meant, Ryan said, “No, no, no, he said that. I heard him say that.”
Apparently caught off guard, Spicer moved away from the insinuation and instead answered the generic elements of her question, talking about Trump’s experience at the museum.
Ryan was referring to a remark Donald Trump made at an Ohio rally in March 2016. She was not quoting something Trump said but was instead relaying back how she had chosen to interpret him at the time.
Here are Trump’s actual words;
“We’re people that work very hard. We’re people who’ve built this country and made this country great. And we’re all together and we want to get along with everybody, but when they have organized, professionally staged wise guys, we’ve got to fight back, we’ve got to fight back.”
You may notice that the description “white” is nowhere to be found in his comments. It didn’t matter to Ryan. She gave herself permission to read between the lines, explaining in a Tweet:
“A question: So what does ‘we built this country’ mean in front of a predominantly white crowd?”
For a journalist, the answer to that question should be clear: Trump meant what he said, no more, no less unless hard facts are brought in that show that he did not. It may have been a “predominantly white crowd,” but that means it was not an exclusively white crowd. Ryan’s interpretation revealed her own thought processes, not Trump’s.
Black Americans have been seen on television enthusiastically holding pro-Trump signs at Trump rallies, and well-known black Americans have defended Trump publically, people like Sheriff David Clark, Pastor Mark Burns, radio host Larry Elders, former presidential candidate Herman Cain, and Dr. Ben Carson. Ryan, at the very least, should have suspended her own assumptions about white racism and that when white people hear “we,” they understand “we white people.”
She had no evidence at all that “we white people” is what Trump really meant.
Ryan is entitled to her opinion, but she is not entitled to treat it as fact. She mentioned something Trump said and in the same breath interpreted it, treating her interpretation as fact.
Ryan’s question was irresponsible journalism. There should be outrage, but in the current media climate, it was lost in the noise. The country has since moved on to other news, such as Trump’s decision to skip the White House Correspondents dinner, where journalists traditionally offer “good natured” roasts of the current president. Why oh why would he feel like skipping an event such like that?
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and a columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net