Trump Press Conference Reactions: Disgust, Disbelief

Republicans slam his defense of alt-right protesters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2017 1:15 AM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2017 6:20 AM CDT
Trump Press Conference Stuns Allies, Critics
President Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 in New York.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Trump's extraordinary Trump Tower press conference Tuesday—in which he described some participants in white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville as "very fine people," said the "alt-left" should share the blame for a counter-protester's death, and compared Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to George Washington—stunned his critics and quite a few of his allies, with some Fox News hosts expressing as much disbelief as anchors on less Trump-friendly networks. A roundup of reactions:

  • Twitter exploded with reactions within minutes, Raw Story reports. "Trump just told America there are good people on both sides," tweeted Tony Posnanski. "So he thinks there are good Nazis... I'm speechless."
  • Fox News host Kat Timpf said she could barely believe what she saw was real life, Mediaite reports. She described the press conference, and Trump's defense of rally participants, as one of the biggest messes she had ever seen. "I have too much eye makeup on to start crying right now," she said. "It's disgusting."
  • CNN lists its 14 most shocking lines from the press conference.

  • CNN was among the other networks where hosts expressed disbelief, the New York Times reports. Jake Tapper told viewers: "To anybody out there watching today who is confused and thinks, 'I thought that the Klan and neo-Nazis and white supremacists, I thought there was no debate about this thing among civilized people'—there isn't a debate about it."
  • Trump's remarks were condemned by many of his fellow Republicans, including Reps. Paul Ryan and Steve Scalise, the Hill reports. "I don't understand what's so hard about this. White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn't be defended," tweeted Rep. Steve Stivers, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
  • One of the most powerful denunciations from the Democratic side came from Hawaii's Sen. Brian Schatz. "As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment," he tweeted. "This is not my President."
  • Trump made it clear that he sides with the alt-right Charlottesville protesters, according to Philip Bump at the Washington Post. "The looming question was whether Trump felt that Nazis and people protesting those Nazis were otherwise equivalent," he writes. "Such equivalence would suggest that racism and an embrace of Adolf Hitler have a place in America’s political conversation. Trump gave every indication that he thought that equivalence existed."
  • praised Trump for his "press smackdown," though he was criticized by conservative sites including National Review, where David French accused him of "whitewashing evil." "What makes this all the more puzzling is that it is so easy to say the right thing here," French wrote. "Do not call anyone at a racist rally a 'very fine' person. It’s not hard."
  • White supremacists and alt-right leaders praised Trump's comments, including former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke. "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville out & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa," he tweeted.
(More Charlottesville, Va. stories.)

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