During an interview on MSNBC on Friday, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short indicated that President Trump isn’t having too many second thoughts about the superheated rhetoric he’s repeatedly used to attack journalists.
Short was asked by Hallie Jackson if he believes “the president should stop calling journalists ‘the enemy of the people'” in light of a shooting at the office of a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday that left five people dead.
Short deflected the question by changing the topic to Maxine Waters.
“Hallie, I think that right now, we’re all incredibly sad, sorry for the victims. It’s impossible to know the pain they’re going through,” Short began. “We’re praying for them. I think that the president — I think that to try to make this political at this point, Hallie, is not something that we’re looking to engage in that conversation.”
“I think that if MSNBC wants to look at the rhetoric coming out of Maxine Waters and encouraging resistance toward Trump administration officials, then I hope you do that coverage as well,” Short continued. “But right now we think it’s more important that we simply share our sympathies and the victims of the tragedy.”
Short’s use of Waters to deflect from Trump’s media-bashing is unfounded. During a speech last weekend, Waters responded to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders being asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia by urging people to make it uncomfortable for Trump cabinet members to be in public until they reunite immigrant children they’ve separated from their families. Trump, on the other hand, has been stirring up anger toward journalists for years.
Just three days before the Annapolis shooting, Trump denounced the press as “the enemy of the people” during a speech in South Carolina. That came days after he used the same term to describe journalists in a tweet.
Why was the FBI giving so much information to the Fake News Media. They are not supposed to be doing that, and knowing the enemy of the people Fake News, they put their own spin on it – truth doesn’t matter to them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
Trump has repeatedly used the “enemy of the people” phrase with regard to journalists since taking office. His rhetoric during the campaign was even worse. During a December 21, 2015 rally, Trump said of reporters, “I would never kill them, but I do hate them. And some of them are such lying, disgusting people. It’s true.”
In the wake of the shooting in Annapolis, the White House is just pretending like Trump never said these things.
Strongly condemn the evil act of senseless violence in Annapolis, MD. A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American. Our prayers are with the victims and their friends and families.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 28, 2018
During a speech on Friday, Trump didn’t address his past comments, but responded to the Annapolis shooting by saying, “Journalists like all Americans should be free from the fear of violently attacked while doing their job.”
Before going any further today, I want to address the horrific shooting that took place yesterday at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. This attack shocked the conscience of our Nation, and filled our hearts with grief… pic.twitter.com/LALXGhk04b
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2018
Meanwhile, Maxine Waters canceled scheduled events over the weekend because of death threats she’s been receiving. Trump added fuel to the fire on Monday by lying about what Waters said and issuing a thinly-veiled threat against the congresswoman.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party,” Trump tweeted. “She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Trump also pushed a blatant lie about Waters during a speech in Fargo on Wednesday, saying, “[S]he practically was telling people the other day to assault! Can you imagine if I said the things she said? ‘We demand that he immediately drop out of the race!’”
Trump doesn’t have to imagine. He has a long history of directly calling violence against protesters. In one infamous case, he obliquely referred to the possibility of “Second Amendment people” taking out Hillary Clinton.