CNN’s Jake Tapper summed up what everyone was thinking immediately after the end of Donald Trump’s combative press conference Tuesday afternoon: “Wow, that was something else.”
The president had just delivered a rambling rant about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend — and television viewers, social media users, and even members of conservative-leaning media were left stunned and speechless.
Read the full account here, but in summary: Trump backpeddled from earlier comments by saying there is “blame on both sides” for the violence surrounding the white nationalist protest “Unite the Right”; drew equivalence between white supremacists and counter protestors; used the Sean Hannity-coined term “alt-left,” and demanded to know why no one was talking about that group of people.
Trump also insisted that most of the people at “Unite the Right” were not white nationalists, and claimed that they were protesting peacefully on August 11, the day before a counterprotestor was murdered and several others injured when a nazi sympathizer drove his car into a crowd. Notably, “Unite the Right” was organized by a known white nationalists, promoted largely through white nationalist channels, and on August 11 hundreds of attendees were video taped chanting “Jews will not replace us” while carrying torches.
Suffice to say, the reaction is not positive. Read on for a sample.
Liberal arts college professor brutalizes Nazi, who has a permit. More alt-left indoctrination. pic.twitter.com/knrhHuPNDl
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 15, 2017
My grandparents lived in concentration camps as they watched their families die because of Nazis. Fuck u Mr. President 4 legitimizing hate.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) August 16, 2017
Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017
To defend white supremacists and then slang his shitty ass grape juice pretty much sums the man up
— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) August 15, 2017
Why is no one focusing on the Antifa protesters, @POTUS? BECAUSE THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY MURDERED A HUMAN BEING WAS NOT FROM THAT GROUP
— Kat Timpf (@KatTimpf) August 15, 2017
That press conference kinda just blew up my brain. Everyone should watch that entire thing from beginning to end. It's truly shocking.
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) August 15, 2017
the president is just kind of hanging it out there that he is openly a nazi sympathizer i guess
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) August 15, 2017
we told you this term was red-baiting, we told you it carried water for the far-right, and a lot of you kept using it anyway https://t.co/bCvj62X68I
— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) August 15, 2017
BREAKING: Trump says the 'alt-left' bears some responsibility for violence in Charlottesville, 'nobody wants to say that.'
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 15, 2017
any decent person would quit right then https://t.co/ctuMPYYIm7
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) August 15, 2017
John Kelly during the President's Q and A at Trump Tower pic.twitter.com/vxR3hTUqe3
— Kristin Donnelly (@kristindonnelly) August 15, 2017
whoa, hot take comin' https://t.co/hgGT9PA3YF
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) August 15, 2017
Guys, I think our President is bad at his job.
— Bunkie Perkins (@BunkiePerkins) August 15, 2017
Now, NOW is the time for citizens, lawmakers, political and business leaders to abandon him. HOW MUCH WORSE DOES IT NEED TO GET? DO IT NOW.
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) August 15, 2017
Lincoln: “4 score and 7 seven years ago…"
JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
Trump: “Actually the Nazis had a permit…"
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) August 15, 2017
There is only one side. White supremacy is always wrong.
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) August 15, 2017
Trump is now reversing everything he said yesterday. Have no doubt: The President is a racist white supremacist who stands with neo-Nazis.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 15, 2017
This is a lot of things.
At this point, though, "surprising" is not one of them.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) August 15, 2017
NEW VIDEO: Trump just equated Robert E. Lee to George Washington. His moral authority to lead this country has ended pic.twitter.com/KpCDLkP7Di
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) August 15, 2017
Amazed the President didn't start ranting about doing his part to red-pill the nation. Came close!
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 15, 2017
This press conference is absolutely historic. The President of the United States in a meltdown of delusional evil.
— N O S ⋊ Ɔ I ᴚ ᴚ Ǝ ᗡ ⊥ ⊥ O Ɔ S (@scottderrickson) August 15, 2017
But it wasn’t all bad news for the Trump. Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, still a highly visible figure in American’s white supremacist culture, expressed outright gratitude for Trump drawing equivalence between the white nationalists at Unite the Right, and liberal counterprotestors.