Left-wing journalists conceded on Thursday that President Donald Trump had referred to MS-13, not immigrants in general, as “animals,” but still argued that Trump was racist — or that he was to blame for their own failures to provide accurate context.
Daily Beast reporter Asawin Suebsaeng conceded the industry-wide “mistake” — but blamed “Trump’s past racist comments & policy” for the “misconstrued” statement.
team trump folk have a point that some in The Media misconstrued what trump said about ms-13. It was a mistake made in part due to trump’s past racist comments & policy prescriptions & his inability to clearly talk good.
They are wrong when they say Trump is “owed” an apology
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) May 17, 2018
Politico Magazine‘s chief political correspondent Tim Alberta laid equal blame on “a media climate that feeds on outrage and speed” — and Trump’s “history of using racially-charged language.”
Awful lot of reporters screwed up re: Trump’s “animals” remark. It’s the result of a media climate that feeds on outrage and speed and re-tweets. But it’s also the result of Trump’s own history of using racially-charged language and the total erosion of any benefit of the doubt.
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) May 17, 2018
CNBC correspondent and John Podesta superfan John Harwood’s objected to Trump’s statement, contending that “MS-13 gang members are human beings [in my humble opinion].”
however repugnant their actions, MS-13 gang members are human beings IMHO
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) May 17, 2018
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s chief “fact checker,” promoted a thread by a Cato Institute Senior Fellow arguing that, even in context, Trump is dehumanizing “brown criminals” in “a textbook case of how dehumanizing and racist rhetoric works.”
Trump supporters are claiming his “animals’ comment was really about MS-13. Perhaps, but as usual Trump speaks so imprecisely that it’s ambiguous IMHO. But here’s a sharp push-back to the Trumpian spin –> https://t.co/pyYlNd9JvL
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) May 17, 2018
CNN’s Ana Navarro sarcastically quipped that it is “unfathomable” that anyone would misinterpret the “animals” remark, given a string of other out-of-context statements from Trump.
Trump re immigrants:
-Mexicans, “rapists & criminals”
– Haitians have AIDS
– Latin countries, “shit-holes”
– Africans live in huts
– Judge Curiel unqualified b/c he’s “Mexican”
So unfathomable ppl assumed he was referring to immigrants when he supposedly called MS-13, “animals”🙄
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) May 17, 2018
Ernest Marshall, another CNN contributor, attacked Trump based on the false meme that the President called white supremacists in Charlottesville “very fine people.”
Trump couldn’t wait for the chance to call MS-13 gang members “animals,” but somehow saw found “some very fine people on both sides” when describing white supremacists. pic.twitter.com/hqMXzyuH0f
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) May 17, 2018
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo argued that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “lied” about the MS-13 context, because “Trump clearly was not referring only to MS-13 gang members.” Marshall wrote a blog post, titled “Watch the Whole Video,” and concluded: “the full context is about as damning as the President’s context in isolation.”
Unsurprisingly, Sanders lied. Trump clearly was not referring only to MS-13 gang members.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 17, 2018
A cluster of marginal yet Twitter-Verified writers shared even hotter takes:
3A: Was it racist?
It emphatically was racist. In part because of the way Trump conflated all immigrants (particluarly those at the Mexican border) with MS-13. But also in part with how he has responded to horrible, evil people who are white.
— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) May 17, 2018
When Trump says “MS-13” (which has a very small presence in America) his supporters hear “brown folks.” He is fully aware of this.
— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) May 17, 2018
In Michigan last month, Trump brought up MS-13 when he spoke about immigration. There’s a pattern of him mentioning gangs when he talks about immigrants. https://t.co/F6FhT9UbzY
— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) May 17, 2018
— Caille Millner (@caillemillner) May 17, 2018
Defending Trump’s “animals” comment because he had mentioned MS-13 beforehand is a bit like denying that he claimed that Mexico was sending us a bunch of rapists because he added, “and some, I assume, are good people.”
— Joshua Holland (@JoshuaHol) May 17, 2018
The right is claiming Trump’s comments about “animals” are being taken out of context.
The context of repeatedly immigrant-bashing and exploiting xenophobia seems to be relevant here
Trump made no effort to limit his comments to gang members
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 17, 2018
Trump and Sanders showed no signs of walking back the statement Thursday, despite the continued outrage.
“If the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to,” Sanders told reporters. “Frankly, I don’t think the term that the president used was strong enough.”
The President responded to a similar question: “When the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as animals and guess what, I always will.”