The Charlottesville Lie

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Shared August 5, 2019

Did President Trump call neo-Nazis “very fine people” during a famous press conference following the Charlottesville riots of August 2017? The major media reported that he did. But what if their reporting is wrong? Worse, what if their reporting is wrong and they know it’s wrong? A straight exploration of the facts should reveal the truth. That’s what CNN political analyst Steve Cortes does in this critically important video.

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Script:

Politicians lie.

We all know that.

That is not an indictment of all politicians—it’s simply part of the game.

It’s our job, as informed citizens, to figure out the truth. And that’s where journalists and the media come in. They are supposed to help us ferret out fact from fiction. So when they get a fact wrong, that’s bad.

When they get a fact wrong, know it’s wrong, and don’t correct it, that’s worse. That’s not getting a fact wrong; that’s a lie. And that’s journalistic malfeasance.

The best (or maybe worst) example of this followed a presidential press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

You remember what happened that previous weekend: A group of white supremacists held a
“white pride” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The ostensible reason was to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

An Antifa group showed up to counter-protest. The mayor and the police were totally unprepared to deal with the violence that ensued. Tragically, a young woman, Heather Heyer, was run over and killed by a neo-Nazi.

The press conference itself was raucous. The media was antagonistic. The president was combative.

Out of it all, one phrase eclipsed the thousands of words exchanged: The media reported that President Trump described neo-Nazis as “very fine people.”

Only, he didn’t. In fact, he didn’t even hint at it. Just the opposite: he condemned the neo-Nazis in no uncertain terms. So then, who were the “fine people” he mentioned?

The answer: He was referring to another group of Charlottesville demonstrators who came out that weekend—protestors who wanted the Robert E. Lee statue removed and protestors who wanted to keep the statue and restore the park’s original name.

This is what President Trump said about those peaceful protestors: “You also had some very fine people on both sides. . . . You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of—to them—a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”

A few moments later, in case there would be any misunderstanding, he makes his meaning even more explicit. “…I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally.”

Lest you have any doubts that good people were in Charlottesville to protest the removal of the
Robert E Lee statue, the New York Times confirmed it in a story they published the next day, August 16.

“’Good people can go to Charlottesville,’ said Michelle Piercy, a night shift worker at a Wichita, Kansas retirement home, who drove all night with a conservative group that opposed the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. After listening to Mr. Trump on Tuesday, she said it was as if he had channeled her and her friends… who had no interest in standing with Nazis or white supremacists…”

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