Nykea Aldridge, the cousin of NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, was shot dead in Chicago on Friday while pushing her baby in a stroller. Donald Trump seized on the tragedy with a self-congratulatory tweet, claiming the murder validated his world view and proved African-Americans should vote for him.
Dwyane Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2016
In one sense, Trump’s tweet is horrible. Using a murder of a young mother as a jumping off point for a self-congratulatory tweet that ends with “VOTE TRUMP!” is not within most people’s definition of basic decency.
But in another sense, Trump’s tweet is expected and even banal. Trump doesn’t have much of a traditional campaign apparatus. Instead, he’s relied on making outrageous statements to generate free media attention. Lately, that has meant insulting the African-American community as an “appeal” for their votes.
So Trump’s tweet was untoward but it was also par for the course.
Also tweeting about Nykea Aldridge’s death was her cousin Dwayne Wade who, along with being one of the NBA’s best players, has been an outspoken advocate against gun violence.
My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) August 27, 2016
In July, Wade appeared with his friends LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony at the ESPY Awards and denounced gun violence, naming Chicago as a flash point.
The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough.
Just days ago, Wade participated in an “ESPN town hall on athletes, social responsibility and gun violence” in Chicago. (Wade, who played his entire career with the Miami Heat, will play for the Chicago Bulls this season.)
The Associated Press, however, used Twitter to equate Trump’s craven opportunism with Wade’s personal tragedy and longstanding advocacy.
Yes, Trump’s tweet was more obviously offensive. It’s also exactly what we expect from him. The Associated Press is a news source that many Americans rely on to understand and contextualize the world. We expect more.
The AP prides themselves on objectivity but not distinguishing between Trump and Wade to their audience of 8.4 million on Twitter is not fair or accurate. Also, whether intentionally or not, the tweet normalizes Trump’s behavior.
False equivalency is beginning to become a disturbing pattern for the AP. Trump built his entire political career pushing conspiracy theories, suggesting Obama’s birth certificate is fake, this year’s election is “rigged” or that vaccines cause autism. Hillary Clinton has no such history.
But for the AP, there is no distinction between the candidates. This article was published Thursday:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It’s a conspiracy: The 2016 campaign features one candidate who warned against the “vast right-wing conspiracy” and another who was a leader of the so-called “birther” movement.
Donald Trump and his surrogates hint at a mysterious “illness” afflicting rival Hillary Clinton. Pushing back, Clinton warns of murky ties between Trump and the Russian government, insinuating that her Republican opponent may be a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rumors and innuendo long confined to the far reaches of the Internet are dominating the presidential race, forcing Clinton to grapple — once again — with the kinds of whispers that have dogged her family for decades.
Clinton has largely avoided discussing the conspiracies, leaving it to members of her campaign team or allies. But she is preparing a Reno, Nevada, address on Thursday that will accuse Trump of supporting an “alt-right” campaign that presents “a divisive and dystopian view of America.”
Of course, the distinction is that Trump does support the “alt-right.” He recently appointed the man who runs the nation’s leading “alt-right” website to be the CEO of his campaign.
Trump’s tweet about the murder of Wade’s cousin was more outrageous. He is an unrivaled master of sparking outrage. But the Associated Press’ tweet, and the false equivalency it represents, is more pernicious.
Trump’s time on the national stage may be winding down. The Associated Press is here to stay.
UPDATE (September 8, 2016):
The AP decided to delete the tweet, along with another one on the Clinton Foundation.