National Public Radio’s ‘Freakonomics’ Repeats Charlottesville Hoax

National Public Radio, whose Washington, D.C., headquarters are shown, has seen two senior news executives depart in recent weeks after allegations of sexual misconduct. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)
Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

National Public Radio’s Freakonomics podcast interviewed former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn and repeated the false claim that President Donald Trump referred to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “very fine people.”

The podcast, first published March 13, aired March 31 on WBEZ-Chicago. It includes a passage in which President Trump’s remarks at a press conference in August 2017 are deceptively edited to convince listeners he referred to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “very fine people” — when, in fact, he had specifically condemned them.

(CNN used a similar deceptive edit from early February through early March, and has yet to correct or retract its claims.)

The Freaknomics transcript is as follows:

While putting together the tax plan, just eight months into Trump’s term, came a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

MARCHERS: Anti-white, anti-white, anti-white.

MARCHERS: Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.

There were counter demonstrations as well, and violence. Trump’s response is now infamous.

TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

And it did nothing to ease the tension; Gary Cohn, by the way, is Jewish.

Cohn’s disappointment was well-documented at the time, including by Breitbart News, though it is not clear what, precisely, had bothered him in Trump’s response.

Freakonomics does not mention that Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, who is also Jewish, defended the president’s remarks and said they had been mischaracterized.

Breitbart News and others have repeatedly debunked the false claim about “very fine people.” The full transcript of Trump’s remarks makes clear beyond any doubt that he specifically excluded the neo-Nazis from “very fine people.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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