Hosts of a programme on Fox News have claimed that the media – not the Klu Klux Klan or neo-Nazis – are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On ‘Fox and Friends,’ co-host Pete Hegseth said that “nothing is ever good enough” for the “press” so they would keep pushing Donald Trump on his statements following the protest that resulted in three deaths and dozens of injuries.
Mr Hegseth was referring to the widespread questioning of the President’s initial statement following the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer and two Virginia State Police officers, Berke MM Bates and H Jay Cullen.
Mr Trump, ahead of a bill signing regarding the Veterans Administration, blamed “many sides” for the violence and stopped short of condemning the Klu Klux Klan and Nazis present at the rally. He called on the nation to “unite” and “heal wounds” of a problem that had been around for “a long, long time. Not Barack Obama. Not Donald Trump”.
One senior administration official said “on background” to reporters that Mr Trump “of course” denounces these groups. Several of the white nationalist protesters were seen wearing pro-Trump gear.
It was not until nearly 48 hours after the incidents that Mr Trump gave a statement at the White House that condemned those groups directly and once again called on the country to come together, adding that “regardless of race, creed, religion, or political party” everyone is American.
Charlottesville, Virginia Protests
Co-host Abby Huntsman said of the mainstream media: “they have an open door now to run with their narrative…in their minds, a lot of them, say ‘we can associate the President with these groups'”.
“That fits a lot of narrative on the left and of the media. And that is very problematic for society for us to even be talking like that,” said Ms Huntsman.
“Of course, because so much of the left sees this world not through America first but through racial identity politics first,” Mr Hegseth noted.
The President used what many considered fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail against women, the disabled, the African-American, Hispanic, Latin American, Muslim communities. He also cut federal funding awarded by the Obama administration to groups fighting right-wing violent extremist groups just ahead of the Charlottesville incident.
Mr Trump has frequently retweeted reports of Fox News using his personal Twitter account and the network has appeared largely favourable to the US leader. He is also close friends with the network’s owner, NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch.