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Reflecting on coverage of president’s response to tragedy

Posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

If you have been watching the news or following your Social Media news feed, you have likely been bombarded by the coverage on the awful tragedy that took place on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.
During one of the self-described largest white supremacist events in recent U.S. history, a “United the Right” rally was taking place to protest the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue.
After gathering on Friday, protesters gathered again on Saturday only to clash with counter-demonstrators.
At around 11:30 a.m., a local state of emergency was declared by the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Two hours later, a man drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-demonstrators. There were 35 people injured and one person killed as a result of the car ramming into the crowd. A helicopter covering the incident unfortunately crashed killing two officers.
As if that wasn’t enough, the news cycle took on life of its own when President Donald Trump first sent a tweeted response to the attack.
He tweeted “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
President Trump then talked about the situation at a make-shift press conference that was previously scheduled to discuss veterans affairs.
His nearly 15 minute speech talked about the need for the “hate and the division” to stop.
President Trump called for a true affection for one another.
“No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first,” he said. “We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we’re proud of our country, we’re proud of who we are.”
While the president made a call for Americans to love and respect each other, many politicians in both parties went on the attack for him failing to say anything about the incident being as a result of white supremacist’s actions and he failed to call it domestic terrorism.
For two days, a continuous news cycle blasted the president for not specifically calling out groups like the KKK and white supremacists for their part in the attack.
On Monday, the president said a Department of Justice civil rights investigation has started. He called for those involved in the deadly attack, that justice will be delivered.
He went on to say “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. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
So what now?
Well, I think the president ultimately said what needed to be said.
Unfortunately, it just came too late and now very few citizens have even heard what was said on Monday two days after the attack. He took a strong stance and even named the groups he was criticized for not pointing out two days earlier.
For a president who sends out so many tweets a day and for a president who has a pretty good finger on the pulse of what America might be talking about on Social Media, I don’t know why he didn’t just tweet something on Saturday or Sunday that specifically named these groups.
With the delay, it gave many folks on both sides of the political aisle to call him out for failure to label those responsible for the crime. It was no different than the GOP hammering President Barack Obama for the times he wouldn’t say a situation was at the hands of “Islamic terrorists.”
That being said, President Obama was also too quick to condemn police involved shootings when an investigation had yet to be completed. In some of those cases, the officers were later cleared.
If the president failed to label those responsible in Charlottesville, Va. due to an investigation still looking into the matter, he could have pointed that out. He didn’t.
The delay in labeling those responsible gave many opponents a chance to once again point out the fact that well-known KKK members like David Duke endorsed the president when he ran for office. Some felt he never did a good enough job shooting down Duke’s endorsement.
The lack of a quick response in the Virginia situation allowed a picture to be painted of the president being “racist” and that he had some sort of connection to these hate groups.
While I think labeling the president as a “racist” is unfair as so many people just like to throw out accusations based on one situation these days, I do say the backlash the president is receiving is mostly his fault.
The man is known as an instant communicator in the Social Media world. One quick tweet naming those responsible would have made a difference in the news cycle for 72 hours. His failure to do so led to a firestorm for the president that may still linger for some time.