Not Even Donald Trump Is Standing Behind His Charlottesville Statement, and Other Craziness From His Rally in Phoenix

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Donald Trump held a rally in Phoenix, Arizona last night, and predictably, his extemporaneous musings made anyone who bought into his recent, scripted approach look ridiculous. In a completely off-the-rails display, he managed to misquote himself in an attempt to rewrite history in his favor, lie about whether he was being broadcast on live TV as he was being broadcast on live TV, talk about pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling—surely allaying our concerns about Trump and racial issues—and more.

In defending himself over his response to the violence and death that resulted from white supremacists and neo-Nazis holding a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump reread his initial statement about the events to the crowd in Phoenix, but he omitted the part where he felt the need to qualify that the “hatred, bigotry, and violence” was “on many sides, on many sides”—the exact part that he was criticized for. It’s almost like equating white supremacist violence and murder to those protesting against white supremacists is indefensible.

His creative revisions weren’t left to the past, though. He also tried to actively rewrite the present and stoke the distrust of the media with what might be his most transparent lie yet—no small feat, to be sure. Here, you can watch as he goes full The Emperor’s New Clothes as his accusations that he’s no longer being broadcast on live television are broadcast on live television:

His insistence that the news media is reluctant to broadcast him is especially ridiculous considering that a major criticism of the media’s actions during the 2016 campaign was giving Trump too much unwarranted coverage and propping him up just for ratings.

And for anyone out there still doubting whether the reason Trump is unwilling to call out racism is because he actively participates in it, he heavily hinted that he would pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that Arpaio’s police department was racially profiling and ordered them to stop—an order Arpaio violated. Trump told the crowd, “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine. I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy, but Sheriff Joe can feel good.”

It’s a weird move to explicitly tell people what you’re going to do and how you’re planning to avoid consequences, but he’s already been doing it with his explicit plan to ruin the Affordable Care Act and blame Democrats. He also patted himself on the back for being “very presidential” and not naming which senators he was calling out in some of his other remarks, even though he made it very clear he was talking about John McCain and Jeff Flake.

The whole thing was full of exactly the blatant lies and nonsense propaganda we’ve come to expect, and it seems like we’re not the only ones who’ve gotten bored of it. The crowd, despite wide-angle photos shot carefully to make it look like a packed room, was pretty thin—thin enough that a picture circulated online to prove the power of Trump’s draw, which was actually a shot of a Clevelend Cavaliers basketball championship parade.

He spent most of his speaking time listing off criticism against him and explaining why he thinks it’s unwarranted, which seemed to bore even the Trump diehards who showed up for the event. He’s sure to have even more to complain about after the takeaways from this rally, not just from the news media, but from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper:

White supremacists were pretty happy, though, which I can only imagine will comfort Trump. They probably liked all his talk about defending Confederate monuments and holding onto “heritage.” Meanwhile, the rest of us can only wonder why he seems so eager to throw insults at anyone else but is angry about not getting credit for doing the bare minimum in denouncing white supremacists. It’s a mystery as tough to solve as whether or not Trump is a liar.

(image: Shutterstock/a katz)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.