Donald Trump turned his announcement of a new labor secretary nominee into a circus of a press conference, the lowlights of which were his attempts to bully Jake Turx, a Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine, and April Ryan, a Black journalist with American Urban Radio Networks.
Donald Trump took questions for over an hour at a press conference following his announcement of a new pick for labor secretary, and offered rambling remarks that covered the familiar territory of bashing the media, lying about the court that killed his Muslim ban, and lying about his electoral victory.
The event was characteristically chock-full of spectacularly Trumpian moments too numerous to mention, but there were two that particularly stood out for their open racism, sexism, and blatant hostility.
First, seeking a question from a “friendly reporter,” Trump called on Jake Turx of Ami Magazine, who took great pains not to frame his question about the rise in anti-Semitism as an attack on Trump, but rather an opportunity for him to respond to it. Instead, Trump attacked the man, telling him to “sit down,” and refuting a “charge” that the man never made:
TURX: So, first of all, my name is Jake Turx from Ami Magazine. And despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren who are [inaudible]. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism, and how the government is planning to take care of it. There have been reports that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts, or threatening to.
TRUMP: You see, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not.
UNIDENTIFIED: It’s an important question.
TRUMP: No, it’s not, it’s not a fair question. Okay, sit down, I understand the rest of your question. So here’s the story, folks: Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism: The least racist person. In fact, we did very well, relative to other people running as a Republican —
TURX: [inaudible interruption]
TRUMP: Quiet, quiet, quiet. See, he lied about — he was going to get up and ask a very straight simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media. But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive, I hate even the question, because people that know me — and you heard the prime minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time,’ and then he said, ‘forget it.’ So, you should take that instead of having to get up and asking a very insulting question like that.
Trump handled a similar question from the Israeli press previously by rattling off some Jewish people he knows. But in the press conference, he went on full attack, and never explained what, if anything, he plans to do about the problem of increased anti-Semitism. Later in the presser, he spat, “We’re working on it!” in response to a follow-up.
Then, April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks asked Trump about his plans to help “inner cities,” and after a few minutes of familiar talking points, Ryan interrupted to ask Trump if he would include the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in those plans. Trump did not know what the CBC was, and when told by Ryan, he barked at her, “Do you want to set up the meeting?” — presumably because, in Trump’s mind, a Black reporter must be friends with all the CBC members:
RYAN: When you say the inner cities, are you go you think to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda, as well as —
TRUMP: Am I going to include who?
RYAN: Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in —
TRUMP: Well, I would. I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?
RYAN: No, no, I’m just a reporter —
TRUMP: Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting —
RYAN: I know some of them, but I’m sure they’re working right now —
TRUMP: Let’s go, set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the Black Caucus, I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it’s great. I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited, and then he said, ‘Oh, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically, I can’t have that meeting.’ I was all set to have that meeting you know, we called him and he was all set, I spoke to him on the phone, very nice guy —
RYAN: I hear he wanted that meeting with you as well.
TRUMP: He wanted it, but we called, called, called, called, they can’t make a meeting with him. Every day I walk in and I said,’I would like to meet with him,’ because I do want to solve the problem. But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight, he was probably told, he was probably told, ‘Don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics,’ and that’s part of the problem in this country.
The racism, sexism, and hostility toward these two reporters are no accident, but a further reminder of why Trump’s fans include Ku Klux Klan icon David Duke, who tweeted his approval of Trump’s performance:
Say what you will, President Trump loves America – great press conference. pic.twitter.com/BRIj7dqDcG
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) February 16, 2017
Trump continues to show that, despite his claims to the contrary, his presidency is designed to appeal solely to the very small, very white segment of the population who voted for him.