Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump’s tweets attacking the Squad of four dissident Democratic House members took over the Washington Post on Tuesday.

The front page of the site, the ninth-ranked news site on the Web, devoted five news stories to condemning the president as a racist and siding with members of Congress who have been upbraided by their own party in some cases for racist remarks.

“Trump lashes out ahead of House vote to condemn his racist tweets,” read the headline on John Wagner and Mike DeBonis’ story.  

“President’s rhetoric met with fading resistance from Republicans, corporate leaders,” read the headline on Toluse Olorunnipa’s story. “A few GOP lawmakers called the president’s tweet racist, but most stayed quiet or tried to soften their admonishment by mixing it with criticism of the women he attacked,” read the subhead.

“Trump answers racism accusation with a charge of his own: Anti-Semitism,” read the headline on Isaac Stanley-Becker’s piece.

Other headlines included: “Analysis: How GOP lawmakers have reacted to Trump’s tweet,” and “White identity politics drives Trump, and the Republican Party under him.”

Olorunnipa went beyond the facts to make his point.

“When Donald Trump assailed Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals during his 2015 presidential campaign launch, companies including Macy’s and NBC rushed to cut their business ties with him,” Olorunnipa wrote.

“When a tape surfaced in 2016 of Trump boasting about grabbing women’s genitals, top Republican officials briefly pulled their endorsements, disinvited him from events and even sought to remove him from the ticket.

“When, as president, Trump equivocated on condemning white supremacists in a deadly Virginia rally, top business leaders disbanded White House advisory boards in protest.

“But on Monday, a day after he posted tweets promoting the racist trope that four minority congresswomen should ‘go back’ to their countries of ancestry, the president waltzed onto the South Lawn of the White House with the confidence of a man fully supported by his party and by much of the corporate world that had once kept him at arm’s length.”

Trump did not equivocate on condemning white supremacists. Asked days after the attack what he thought of it, Trump said:

“Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you 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 a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”

Later, in answer to another question, the president said: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”

In the “white identity politics” story, author Michael Scherer said Trump’s “attack on four minority congresswomen this week … made clear that his reelection campaign will feature the same explosive mix of white grievance and anti-immigrant nativism that helped elect him.”

The “core of the strategy,” Scherer writes, “is Trump’s consistent drumbeat of equating the white European immigrant experience with the American ideal,” which is “sharply reminiscent of that waged by segregationalist George Wallace in multiple presidential campaigns beginning in the 1960s. Republican candidates including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush since have used milder variations of race-based politics to try to pry white voters from the Democratic Party.”

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