New York Times reporter Annie Karni on Thursday insinuated a link between President Donald Trump’s upcoming convention speech and a Ku Klux Klan attack in Jacksonville, Florida, 60 years ago.
The Republican National Committee announced on Thursday that Republicans will gather in Jacksonville for part of its convention after Democrat governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, said that a gathering in Charlotte would require social distancing.
In her story covering this development, Karni — a former Politico reporter — drew parallels between Trump and the KKK:
The event for Mr. Trump in Jacksonville, not in Charlotte, N.C., as planned, coincides with one of the darkest days in the city’s history. The president will address his supporters on the 60th anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday,” when a white mob organized by the Ku Klux Klan attacked mostly black civil rights protesters sitting at the city’s whites-only lunch counters. The attackers hid ax handles in the brush at Hemming Park, said Alan Bliss, the executive director of the Jacksonville Historical Society.
“It was not clear that the historical resonance of the date for the city, which is about 30 percent African-American, was known to Republican officials before its selection,” she added.
This is not the first time Karni has read bigotry or cultural insensitivity into events involving Trump. During the 2019 State of the Union address, she heckled an ad-lib from the president about U.S. soldiers liberating Jewish prisoners from Nazi concentration camps. “They came down from Heaven,” Trump said, prompting Karni to respond on social media: “Jews don’t believe in heaven.” After receiving significant backlash for the myopic fact check, the reporter corrected herself and conceded that her universal proclamation did not speak for all Jewish schools of thought.
In March 2017, Karni floated a “personal theory” that Trump’s enmity with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel stems from intimidation, that butting heads with a “powerful woman” may “bring up memories of Hillary Clinton and the election.”
During that election, Karni wrote largely glowing articles about Clinton for Politico, portraying her victory as all but guaranteed before Trump ultimately prevailed with a stronger-than-expected Electoral College victory, 304-227. According to leaked emails, Karni RSVP’d “yes” to attend a dinner at the home of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, two days before she announced her candidacy. If she did attend the social gathering, Karni never disclosed it in her embedded campaign coverage.
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