Matt Welch, editor at large for Reason, said he did not understand the “Charlottesville hoax” in an interview with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on C-SPAN’s After Words about the latter’s book, Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption.
Democrats, their news media allies, and the broader left regularly repeat the false claim that former President Donald Trump described “white supremacists” and “neo-Nazis” as “very fine people” following 2017’s demonstrations and riots in Charlottesville, VA. Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak dubbed this oft-repeated falsehood the “Very Fine People Hoax.”
Welch contested the description of the above-mentioned false claim as a “hoax.” He said:
You have a subhead up near the top of the book called The Charlottesville Hoax, which is a phrase I’ve seen a lot in conservative media and in critiques of mainstream media. In that section you lament how, quote, “The fake news narrative that Trump said that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides” — of that tragedy that happened in Charlottesville — “followed him around to the end of his presidency,” unquote,
The broader Trump quote that you do include in there [is him saying], “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” So how is the very fine people [narrative] fake news when he kind of said that there’s very fine people on both sides?
I’ve seen this a lot, and I literally don’t understand why that is a hoax.
Marlow recalled how Trump specifically condemned “neo-Nazis” and “white nationalists” during a press conference following riots in Charlottesville. Trump said, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay?”
[relevant portion begins at 44:07]:C-SPAN
Welch repeated his confusion over use of the term “hoax” to describe the aforementioned events despite his acknowledgement that Trump explicitly denounced white racial nationalists involved in Charlottesville’s protests. He said:
I saw [Trump’s] condemnation of the neo-Nazis myself, and internalized that. Yes, he condemned those people, and then he also said, ‘Very fine people on both sides.’ I just don’t see how that in itself is a hoax. So it’s your contention that people deliberately chopped off that other context and pretended that it didn’t exist?
Marlow recalled how the false narrative is continually used to frame Trump — and Trump’s supporters — as ideologically sympathetic to neo-Nazis.
He said, “Over time, it morphed into [Trump] called the neo-Nazis ‘very fine people,’ which he did not. He said specifically those are not the fine people.”
Opposing the removal of Confederate memorials, monuments, and statues from public grounds does not make one a neo-Nazi, Marlow added.
“They’re not [all] neo-Nazis,” Marlow said of demonstrators in Charlottesville opposing the removal of Confederate statues.
“Some of them were, and they were condemned. Some of them were not neo-Nazis and they don’t have to be condemned. To act like every single person there was a neo-Nazi is pretty laughable,” Marlow added.
He continued, “It was treated like it was the greatest hate crime in the history of the world, and we’ve had so much worse in this country. We’ve had so many horrible racial hate crimes..”
Marlow concluded, “We obsessed over this as a nation. We didn’t need to. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the media made it seem, and they tried to make it like Trump was at the center of it, which was just not true in the slightest.”