When the national media have spent years accusing innocent people of being “racist,” it should come as a shock to precisely no one that President Trump didn’t instantly stand at attention to condemn a tiny group of white supremacists.
Reporters and cable news commentators spent the last week either suggesting or plainly stating that Trump harbors some racial animus because he said that “both sides” bear blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the death of one woman and scores of injuries.
Setting aside that what he said is true (as documented by CNN’s Jake Tapper, the New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg and countless other media outlets who were there for the protests), anyone who’s ever watched the news knows that almost every story about racism in America is overblown or fully untrue.
Since he launched his campaign in 2015, Trump has had a front-row seat.
The New York Times on Thursday ran an article on Trump’s “complicated” history with race.
It’s so “complicated” that of all five black people the New York Times interviewed for the story, only one, the liberal MSNBC host Al Sharpton, would say that Trump is “racially exclusive.” (Admittedly, Sharpton, with his previous history of anti-Semitism, is as good an authority as any.)
Everyone else interviewed, including Trump’s biracial ex-girlfriend Kara Young, said they never sensed any racial bigotry.
“That was not my experience,” she said, adding that she “never heard him say a disparaging comment towards any race of people.”
When it comes to stories on race, the media almost always oversell the conclusion.
In the late 1920s, Trump’s father, Fred, was detained by police after a Memorial Day parade that included some Klan members went through his neighborhood in New York and ended in a riot.
There’s no evidence Fred was at the scene (his own neighborhood!) as a member of the Klan, but the Washington Post last year ran a blog post under the headline, “In 1927, Donald Trump’s father was arrested after a Klan riot in Queens.”
Actual reports from the time say Fred was “discharged” after “refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.”
There’s no mention of him having been involved with the Klan but with the nation in a worry over white supremacy, Washington Post reporter Michael Kranish on Tuesday helpfully recalled on Twitter, “The full story of the arrest of Trump’s father’s at a KKK march.”
Dubbing an entire Memorial Day parade a “KKK march” because Klan members showed up is like renaming the whole Democratic Party the “Happy Endings Coalition” because its former presidential nominee Al Gore is said to enjoy the occasional massage.
But it made Trump look like a racist, so it’s deemed acceptable.
The media’s misdirection over race is well documented beyond Trump.
Feeding off America’s media-induced anxiety over tension between police and minorities in 2014, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who is black, did his best to rub the sore by writing a full op-ed and sounding off on Twitter about how his college-aged son was held up at gunpoint by police on Yale’s campus because he matched the description of a suspect.
“This is exactly why I have no patience for people trying to convince me that the fear these young black men feel isn’t real,” he said on Twitter and he lamented in his column that “In these moments, what you’ve done matters less than how you look.”
Blow didn’t tell his readers that the officer who had stopped his son was also black, a detail that only slightly muddies his implied theory about white cops discriminating against blacks.
The “racist” accusation is bandied about by the press so regularly that “That’s racist!” has literally become a joke kids use.
The Duke Lacrosse players weren’t guilty.
Tawana Brawley wasn’t raped.
And Elijah Cummings really does look like John Lewis.
A seizing national media cover race like every day is 1963 and now America has a president unfazed when real racists hold a small rally just a short and convenient drive away from the Washington news bureaus.
It’s not a surprise that he didn’t convulse at more news about racism and it’s not his fault that he’s suspicious any time the press reports about looming white supremacists. It’s the media’s.
Eddie Scarry is a media reporter for the Washington Examiner.