Accuracy in Media


Some members of the mainstream media thought their colleagues may have gone too far after an attempt to say President Trump made racist remarks at a rally Friday night in Lebanon, Ohio.

“President Trump praised the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee while asking African-American voters to ‘honor us’ by voting Republican at an Ohio rally that featured an unexpected and provocative monologue on America’s Civil War history,” wrote Gabriel Pogrund of the Washington Post under the headline.

“Donald Trump Is a Big Fan of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Huge,” wrote Rolling Stone in its headline. “President also said black people should ‘honor us’ and vote Republican in the midterm elections at Ohio rally,” read the subhead on the story, by Peter Wade.

“Trump Tells MAGA crowd: ‘Robert E. Lee was a Great General,’” read the headline on the Root. “Trump praises Robert E. Lee during Ohio rally,” read the headline at Politico. “Donald Trump praises Confederate general Robert E. Lee During Ohio Rally,” wrote Slate.

Newsweek even cut off the quote in curious fashion in its story, headlined, “Trump praises Confederate general Robert E. Lee at Ohio Rally.”

“President Donald Trump praised Confederate general Robert E. Lee at a campaign rally in Lebanon, Ohio, Friday night,” the story by Tom Porter began. “’So Robert E. Lee was a great general. And Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee,” Trump said, launching into a rumination on the American Civil War.”

That rumination included pointing out that Lee was “winning battle after battle after battle” and that Abraham Lincoln could not figure out how to stop him until he settled on Ulysses Grant, a native of the area where Trump was speaking, who promptly “went in and knocked the hell out of everyone.”

The Post story said, “Addressing an open-air rally of around 4,000 supporters, Trump appeared buoyant as he declared that Lee was a ‘true great fighter’ and ‘great general.’ He also said President Abraham Lincoln once had a ‘phobia’ of the Southern general, whose support of slavery has made his legacy a heavily contested and divisive issue.”

NBC News tweeted “WATCH: President Trump says ‘Robert E. Lee was a great general’ during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader ‘incredible.’’

After praising William McKinley, another president from Ohio, Trump said the state “also gave you a general who was incredible. He drank a little bit too much. You know who I’m talking about, right?”

Grant was known as a heavy drinker during his days leading the Union Army, and Lincoln was known to have said he could live with Grant’s drinking because of the results.

After Trump called out NBC in a tweet for “totally and purposely [changing] the point and meaning of my story about General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses Grant,” NBC relented and offered a correction that said, “An earlier tweet misidentified the general President Trump described as ‘incredible’ at a rally in Ohio. It was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, not Gen. Robert E. Lee. An attached video clip lacked the full context for Trump’s remark. Here is the full clip.”

HuffPost also chronicled the backlash.

“NBC News on Friday incorrectly tweeted that Trump had called Lee ‘incredible’ during his speech,” Hayley Miller wrote under “NBC News Issues Correction Over Trump’s Robert E. Lee Comments.”

“NBC News on Friday incorrectly tweeted that Trump had called Lee ‘incredible’ during his speech. The tweet included a clip of the president referring to Lee as a ‘great general’ but failed to provide additional, much-needed context.”

After the speech, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski tweeted: “It seems clear watching this clip, Trump is praising Lee only in skill as a general, and is actually using it to praise Ulysses S. Grant (raised in Ohio) for beating him [in] the Overland Campaign.”




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