The media narrative falsely says that President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacists in the first presidential debate.
It’s not true.
Here’s what Trump really said.
Asked by Chris Wallace if he would condemn “white supremacists and militia groups…” Trump interjected, “Sure.”
“…and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland,” continued Wallace.
Trump said, “Sure, I’m willing to do that.”
“Then go ahead, sir.”
Trump then said: “I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
“Then do it, sir,” said Wallace.
“What do you want to call them? Give me a name,” said Trump. When the Proud Boys were mentioned, Trump said, “stand back and stand by,” and pivoted to Antifa and the left. “This is not a right wing problem. This is a left wing problem,” the president said. Biden said Antifa was an “idea, not an organization.”
The exchange, however mischaracterized, will give the media an issue to flog for days. They’re talking about Trump’s personality tonight, but they’re going to be talking about white supremacy and the Proud Boys tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that too. This angle will overshadow Biden’s comments on race over the years (When accused of being a racist, Trump might have brought some of those up, especially the comment Biden once made about not wanting his kids to grow up in “a racial jungle.”)
Wallace’s question was also a loaded one. He appeared to be blaming the violence in Kenosha and Portland on white supremacists and militia groups. However, for days, arson fires and vandalism erupted in Kenosha from left-wing groups and their supporters, not from right-wing groups who showed up with fire extinguishers to guard businesses and PUT OUT fires. Yes, Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with homicide but there’s no evidence he was a member of a white supremacist or militia group, and Rittenhouse has an extremely strong self defense case since he was being attacked or approached by the men he shot.
As for the violence in Portland, that’s been perpetrated by left-wing groups. The man who shot a pro-Trump supporter to death in Portland was a left-wing protester who wrote, “I am 100% ANTIFA all the way!” Thus, Wallace’s question contained a faulty premise.