President Donald Trump responded to two days’ worth of criticism on Monday by criticizing the white supremacist groups involved in the Charlottesville violence on Saturday explicitly in a statement from the White House.
But Trump’s condemnation did not satisfy the mainstream media, some of whom rushed to criticize Trump for not delivering that explicit condemnation as quickly or as passionately as they believe he ought to have done.
Trump said: “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was present, shouted a question at the president after he finished his statement: “Do you regret not mentioning the white supremacists on Saturday?” He later took to Twitter to complain that Trump had not answered questions.
Trump did not take questions. He was asked by reporters why he waited so long to condemn hate groups. He did not respond.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 14, 2017
Acosta’s CNN colleague, political director David Chalian, said that Trump’s statement may have satisfied his Republican supporters, but not the rest of America: “I don’t think it erases the question of why was this not the initial instinct on Saturday.”
NBC’s Katy Tur, who regularly reads from a teleprompter as an anchor for the left-wing MSNBC network, attacked Trump for reading from prepared remarks:
Its striking that he has to carefully read it off a teleprompter. He railed against prompters yet he can’t speak from the heart about racism https://t.co/olP7gXjR80
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) August 14, 2017
Tur’s NBC and MSNBC colleague, White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, groused that Trump had only made his denunciations “under pressure.”
.@realDonaldTrump “hatred, bigotry and violence..” he names them under pressure.
— Kelly O’Donnell (@KellyO) August 14, 2017
There were many other examples. Toronto Star correspondent Daniel Dale complained that Trump was not as effusive in describing Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer as he has been in mourning Kate Steinle, who was killed by an illegal alien.
Striking how vivid Trump has been in describing, say, Kate Steinle, in contrast to the complete absence of detail about Heather Heyer.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 14, 2017
Disgraced former CBS News journalist Dan Rather piled on, saying that Trump had taken too long to come to the point in his statement:
Was Trump's statement too little, too late? He began by bragging about accomplishments, then briefly dealt w/talk about racism.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 14, 2017
And former MSNBC firebrand Keith Olbermann joined those who criticized the president for not referring to the attack as “terrorism” (though his administration had already done so), adding profanity for good measure:
It took you three days. It lasted 40 seconds. You never said "domestic terrorism."
Fuck you, @realdonaldtrump
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) August 14, 2017
Throughout the 2016 campaign, the idea that Trump failed to denounce extremist groups was a repeated theme among media critics and political opponents. In February 2016, for example, CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Trump to denounce KKK leader David Duke, even though he had already done so publicly on more than on occasion.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.