Fact Check: CNN’s Jake Tapper Falsely Claims Don Jr. Defended ‘Confederate’ Statues; UPDATE: Tapper Corrects

C-SPAN, CNN

UPDATE: Tapper issued an on-air correction on Tuesday afternoon.

CLAIM: Donald J. Trump Jr., said “keep the Confederate statues up” in his speech at the Republican National Convention.

VERDICT: FALSE. He specifically defended the “Founders” and defended “monuments” in general, not Confederate ones.

CNN’s Jake Tapper seemed convinced that Donald J. Trump Jr. had used his address during the first night of the Republican National Convention (RNC) to defend Confederate statues. The following exchange took place on a CNN panel discussion:

Tapper: And the awkwardness of that, I thought, could be seen this evening, when Nikki Haley referred to — and, Abby, I think you mentioned this earlier — she didn’t even mention the word “Confederate” when she talked about how she had removed the Confederate flag from next to the State House in South Carolina. She said she had removed or been part of a group removing a divisive symbol. And so, anyway — she wouldn’t even go there in terms of acknowledging what she had taken down. And then Donald Trump Jr. spoke, and he talked about the need to keep Confederate statues standing! So we had her discussion, Dana, of what a great move that was, and it was, she should be praised for it.

Dana Bash: Right.

Tapper: And then Donald Trump Jr. saying keep the Confederate statues up.

But that is not what Donald Trump Jr. said.

Here are his exact words:

The left, they’re trying to cancel all of those Founders. They don’t seem to understand this important principle: In order to improve in the future, we must learn from our past, not erase it. So we’re not going to tear down monuments and forget the people who built our great nation. Instead, we will learn from our past so we don’t repeat any mistakes. And we will work tirelessly to improve the lives of all Americans.

Don Jr. defended “monuments” in general — after specifically referring to the Founders. He said nothing about Confederates.

A tweet to Tapper on Tuesday morning did not yield a response:

It is true that President Donald Trump has opposed the banning of the Confederate flag, the renaming of U.S. Army bases named for Confederate generals, and the unlawful tearing down of Confederate statues.

He has done so, he says, because of the importance of preserving history; because of the threat to other, universal symbols, like George Washington; and because of freedom of speech.

Regardless, it was misleading, at best, for Tapper and CNN to claim Don Jr. said anything about Confederate statues. He simply defended “monuments” in general. That could theoretically — in the most generic sense — also have included Confederate ones, were it not for the fact that Don Jr. had specifically referred to the Founders of the nation.

Tapper may have taken his cues from Axios, which also falsely reported that Don Jr. had referred to Confederate statues.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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