I recently lamented in The Bulwark that the Democratic Party’s embrace of antisemitism was helping Donald Trump get off the hook for referring to white nationalists rioting in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” I expected, and received, furious replies from Trump supporters who deny that the president ever said any such thing.
This has become official dogma on the Trump-supporting right and has solidified into a name, the “Charlottesville Hoax.” Steve Cortes recently called it that, drumming the message home by calling it a “damnable lie,” a “calumny,” and a “willful deception.” I was not surprised to see The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway link to this approvingly and pontificate, “I have personally witnessed how difficult it is for smart, thoughtful people to accept what Trump actually said, instead of what they ‘remember’ him saying, but it’s really important that we speak accurately here and criticize for real things, not fake.”
Personally, I found this deeply ironic, because I watched in disbelief over a period of about a year as my then-colleagues at The Federalist did precisely that: rewrite this story in their minds to create a more palatable version that would fit comfortably with their support for Trump.
Mollie has accused the media of “gaslighting” the public. But that’s exactly what she’s doing here, trying to make us think we are suffering from some kind of False Memory Syndrome when it comes to Trump’s Charlottesville comments.
So let’s do what Trump’s apologists keep asking us to do and look at what he actually did say.
Read the rest at The Bulwark.