Reality TV star-turned-president, Donald J. Trump, held a “listening session” today with black leaders who supported his campaign. While the event was supposed to mark Black History Month, Trump spent most of his time complaining about CNN’s coverage, muttering about his desire to take over Chicago, and pretending to know something about famous African-Americans.
According to reports from inside the meeting, Trump was still angry at TIME Magazine reporter Zeke Miller for tweeting that a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. No outlet carried the story and Miller quickly apologized for the error, but the incident has become symbolic of Trump’s strained relationship with the media.
Trump had much more to say about that matter than he did about the slain civil rights leader. “Somebody said I took the statue out of my office,” Trump said, apparently not understanding the difference between a bust and a statue. “And it turned out that that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished.”
Here is a transcript of President Trump's comments on Dr. Martin Luther King at his Black History Month gathering this morning. pic.twitter.com/qHq9i1Ligg
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 1, 2017
Trump then described the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the manner of a junior high school student who has not read the assignment, saying that it featured people with “big impact” such as Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said, confusing his verb tenses.
“I’m proud to honor this heritage and will be honoring it more and more,” Trump said. But he spent most of the meeting casting dishonor on the press.
Trump consistently referred to CNN as “fake news” and praised Fox News for having “treated me very nice.” Echoing White House strategist and alt-right webmaster Steve Bannon, Trump declared that “a lot of the media actually is the opposition party.”
“They’re so biased, and really it’s a disgrace,” he opined. “Some of the media is fantastic and fair, but so much of the media is opposition party, knowingly saying incorrect things.”
After complaining about the “very dishonest people” reporting accurately on his administration, Trump offered some fake facts about his popularity with minorities.
“If you remember, I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community,” Trump told the room. “We ended up getting substantially more than candidates who had run in the past years, and now we’re going to take that to new levels.”
In fact, Trump received about 8 percent of the African American vote, which is barely average for Republican presidential nominees since 1980 who did not run against Barack Obama.
Flanked by Ben Carson and Omarosa Manigault in the White House Roosevelt Room, Trump held court with Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott, one of his most delightfully insane supporters among the black evangelical faith community.
Scott, who has a history of saying demonstrably false things, claimed that “some of the top gang thugs in Chicago” had contacted him because “they believe in this administration” and want to trade a “lower body count” for social spending programs.
Trump, who has said he would like to “send the feds” to take over the city, replied that Scott’s fantasy gang summit was “a great idea, because Chicago is totally out of control.”
“If they’re not going to solve the problem — and what you’re doing is the right thing — then we’re going to solve the problem for them, because we’re going to have to do something about Chicago, because what’s happening in Chicago should not be happening in this country,” Trump ranted.
Chicago is not the most violent city in America. It’s not even in the top ten. But Chicago has become a special focus for President Trump because of the politics involved in the city’s race tensions and rising gun homicide rate.
Trump has made a special point of attracting black preachers of the so-called ‘prosperity gospel‘ to his side in order to mask his rampant white nationalism on such issues. During the meeting, he praised Scott and others for appearing on “opposition party” channels to defend him against charges of racism.