President Donald Trump mounted an aggressive defense Tuesday of his response to a deadly far right march in Virginia, using a rally speech to condemn “dishonest” media coverage of his widely criticized remarks.
Trump faced bipartisan outrage after blaming “many sides” for violence at the rally in Charlottesville that took the life of an anti-fascist protester.
Re-reading his statements following the clashes at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, he railed at reporters for misrepresenting his remarks — but omitted the equivocation that had sparked the backlash in the first place.
“The very dishonest media… and I mean truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say a source says there is no such thing,” he said.
“But they don’t report the facts. Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK.”
Trump dedicated around half an hour of his 78-minute speech in Phoenix, Arizona, to attacking the “sick people” in the news media, before turning his fire on his own side.
Speculation had been building that Trump would use the rally to formally endorse a challenger to incumbent moderate Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, in a shot across the bow of skeptical Republicans.
He mocked both Flake and fellow Arizona Republican Senator, John McCain, implying McCain had sabotaged Republican healthcare reforms, but elaborately avoided mentioning either by name.