Even Donald Trump’s staunchest allies within the Republican Party are having a hard time sticking by his side as he continues to avoid condemning white supremacists and neo-Nazis after they murdered at least one counter-protester at their Charlottesville, Virginia rally on Saturday.
Luckily for the president, he’ll always have Fox & Friends. The panel didn’t skip a beat on Sunday morning defending Trump’s comments on Charlottesville.
“I think the president nailed it,” said co-host Pete Hegseth. “He condemned in the strongest possible terms hatred and bigotry on all sides as opposed to immediately picking a side out the gate.”
Indeed, Hegseth even went so far as to suggest that the white supremacists in Charlottesville may be making valid points. Though he claimed that their concerns do not justify “racial preferences or violence at all,” Hegseth said that “there’s always a grievance underneath it that it’s worth talking about.”
To be clear, Hegseth — and Trump — are equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists who believe that white men are genetically superior to non-whites, with a group of counter-protesters who turned up to oppose their message of hate and bigotry.
Top Republicans in Congress, world leaders, current and former administration officials, and even his own daughter have distanced themselves from Trump by issuing more definitive statements specifically condemning racism and white supremacy. But Fox and Friends aren’t alone in sticking with Trump.
On Saturday, moments after Trump’s public address on the Charlottesville attack, users on white supremacist site Daily Stormer were giddily celebrating Trump’s remarks, noting — correctly — that the president not only neglected to call out white supremacy, but equated those who showed up to protest bigotry with the bigots themselves. “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us,” said a post on Daily Stormer. “He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.”
Instead of issuing denouncements, white supremacists and those who sympathize with them have taken to calling for “unity” in the wake of Charlottesville. Hegseth added his voice to those calls.
“We love our country. We love our god. We love our flag,” he said. “And we are proud of our country. That to me is a unifying message that people should be drawn to as opposed to criticize.” Many of the people he is referring to were notably not brandishing American flags but flags of the Confederacy or flags bearing swastikas and other insignias of far-right hate groups like Vanguard America.