Vice President Mike Pence said the media is more concerned with attacking President Trump’s response to the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia than the violence itself, during an NBC News appearance Monday morning.
“Many in the media spent an awful lot of time focusing on what the president said and criticisms of what the president said instead of criticizing those who brought that hatred and violence to the streets of Charlottesville,” Pence told NBC News’ Peter Alexander.
Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides” over the weekend, causing many to fixate on the fact that the president didn’t signal out the white supremacists responsible for the violence. Pence said that the administration has condemned the violence, despite the criticism.
“We will not tolerate hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis. These extremist fringe groups have no place in the American debate,” Pence said.
Alexander asked if the president should have specifically called out white supremacists.
“I think the president yesterday spoke to a national moment, words the American people needed to hear — that we condemn acts of violence, acts of hatred,” Pence said. “The president called on our nation to look for ways to come together, to make sure that these extremist groups are pushed out of the public debate and not given the attention that they too often receive.”
Alexander pressed Pence to name the “many sides” who caused violence over the weekend, noting that white supremacists were the primary group, but Pence didn’t give a direct response.
Groups of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville over the weekend to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, and were met by counter-protesters, leading to violence that began Friday night. Unrest intensified on Saturday, as a vehicle plowed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally, killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal from Virginia, and injuring 19 others. More than 30 were hurt in total as a result of events at the rally.