The establishment media currently loves Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts.
Roberts’ moment of #Resistance glory came during the White House’s Thursday news conference, where the reporter managed to go viral for pressing White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany over what he saw as the president’s refusal to disavow white supremacy during Tuesday’s debate.
“Sure. I’m willing to do that,” Trump said, before countering, “Almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”
Trump seemed confused or equivocal, however, when asked about the Proud Boys — the strange, violent far-right fraternal organization responsible for numerous altercations — telling them to “stand back and stand by.”
This didn’t play well in the establishment media, which seized upon it as if the president was somehow desperately in need of the white supremacist and/or Proud Boy vote. On Wednesday, the president made it clear to reporters that he disavowed white supremacy in all its forms, and on Thursday, he went further in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“I’ve said it many times, let me be clear again, I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys,” the president said, according to Axios. “I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.”
Roberts, meanwhile, used Thursday’s White House media briefing to try and hammer the point home.
“I’d like to ask you for a definitive and declarative statement without ambiguity or deflection,” Roberts said to McEnany. “As the person who speaks for the president, does the president denounce white supremacism and groups that espouse it in all their forms?”
“This has been answered yesterday by the president himself, the day before by the president himself on the debate stage, the president was asked this, he said, ‘Sure,’ three times,” McEnany replied.
“Yesterday he was point-blank asked, ‘Do you denounce white supremacy?’ And he said, ‘I’ve always denounced any form of that.’ I can go back and read for you in August, 2019: ‘In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.’
“In August of 2017: ‘Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.’ I have an entire list of these quotes that I can go through with you. He has condemned white supremacy more than any president in modern history.”
“You read a bunch of quotes from the past,” Roberts said. “Can you…”
“The president was asked this. You’re contriving a storyline and a narrative,” she responded.
Roberts wasn’t satisfied with her reply.
“For all of you on Twitter who are hammering me for asking that question: I don’t care,” Roberts said on the air after the briefing.
“Because it’s a question that needs to be asked, and clearly, the president’s Republican colleagues a mile away from here are looking for an answer for it too.
“So stop deflecting,” he added. “Stop blaming the media. I’m tired of it.”
If he wanted an answer, however, he could have asked another reporter who was covering the president’s remarks on Wednesday — say, ABC’s Kyra Phillips.
— Kyra Phillips (@KyraPhillips) September 30, 2020
Granted, reporters from different networks don’t always share notes, but this was a little different:
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 1, 2020
“I would refer you to your wife’s reporting from 21 hours ago… accurate reporting I cited in the White House Press Briefing,” McEnany tweeted Thursday.
I have no idea how well John Roberts and Kyra Philips get along, but they are in fact bound by the ties of wedlock. Philips had even tagged Roberts in her Wednesday tweet noting that Trump “tells me he DENOUNCES white supremacists” him in it.
Twitter had some fun with this:
This might be the most severe burn in the history of Twitter.
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) October 1, 2020
ooooh…wonder how dinner go tonight in that household?
— NikkiWalker (@NikkiWa67298367) October 1, 2020
For all Roberts’ fulmination, Trump had already given his answer. He’d disavowed white supremacists and groups associated with the ideology. Nor was this a surprise.
The white supremacist vote isn’t going to take anyone over the top in the 2020 election, especially given the rebarbative associations it has. There’s no reason for the president not to disavow it other than the fact reporters like John Roberts want to use it as a distraction.
As for the Proud Boys, I’m fairly certain that, as a busy man, the president isn’t keeping abreast of the comings and goings of the repellent Gavin McInnes and objectionable, bizarre fraternal organization.
President Trump made it clear — several times — that any sort of white supremacist organization is reprehensible. If you haven’t noticed, you aren’t listening. And if that’s the case, it’s probably intentional.
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