Republican front-runner and rabble-rousing demagogue Donald Trump continued his descent down the rabbit hole of white supremacy when he refused – not once, but four times – to disavow the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan “Grand Dragon” David Duke, who recently announced on his radio show that whites voting against Trump was “treason to their heritage.”
For the vast majority of this campaign, CNN has largely abandoned any pretense at inquisitive journalism when it comes to Donald Trump, shamelessly fawning over him in a desperate ratings grab. That changed today – if only for a minute – when Jake Tapper became one of the first interviewers to press Trump on the issue of his support among white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, asking him if he “was willing to say that he did not want those votes” from David Duke and the other racist and genocidal scumbags who believe that our nation belongs only to whites.
Trump, in his usual fashion, punted, saying that “I don’t know anything about David Duke. I don’t know what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. I don’t know. I don’t know, did he endorse me, or what’s going on?” Because I know nothing about David Duke, I know nothing about white supremacists. And so, you are asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”
He then attempted to claim ignorance of Ku Klux Klan: “Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them, and certainly I would disavow if I thought that there was something wrong.”
Tapper then makes a half-hearted attempt to press him on the matter, which Trump ignores: “Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them, and certainly I would disavow if I thought that there was something wrong.”
This exchange is absolutely ridiculous, and perfectly illustrates how Trump has been so unchallenged by the media throughout his campaign. Trump claiming to have no knowledge of white supremacy groups or the Ku Klux Klan is patently absurd and almost impossible; if it is true, Mr. Tapper, why the hell didn’t you press him on it? How is he qualified to be president if he is unfamiliar with the endorsements of his own campaign or with the most notorious domestic terrorist group in the country?
Mr. Tapper, why the hell haven’t you done your homework? Trump is very familiar with Mr. Duke; when he ended his failed presidential run in 2000 with the Reform Party, Trump cited David Duke as a reason for his dropping out: “The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. [Pat][ Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. [Lenora] Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep.” Or how about when Trump said “”David Duke endorsed me? OK, all right. I disavow, OK?” not two days ago. But no. Tapper sits silent, prostituting the principles of his profession and his journalistic integrity to allow a proto-fascist to earn his sycophant network a few extra viewers.
But since Trump is obviously lying, Mr. Tapper, why didn’t you take the opportunity to inform him? “Oh, well, see here, Mr. Trump, you have been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy group that has killed thousands of people of the past two hundred years and wishes to ethnically cleanse the United States of all people who are not Christians of Western European descent. DO YOU AGREE WITH THOSE IDEAS, MR. TRUMP?”
No. Instead, Tapper bends over backwards and lets him get away with this utter nonsense.
In any event, apparently Mr. Trump has changed his tune now that it suits him. While it is very likely that Trump is just baiting the media, which will inevitably speak of nothing but this for the next three days and keep Trump’s name and supposed sympathies to white supremacy a prominent theme in public discourse just before Super Tuesday, it is still deeply disturbing to see how many Americans are actually supportive of Trump’s divisive and racist rhetoric – and how complicit the mainstream media has been in perpetuating his ridiculous narratives, abandoning their journalistic integrity by refusing to call Trump out for his impractical and illegal policy proposals, instead treating them like they are legitimate in the face of basic common sense and a cursory glance at the American Constitution.
You can watch this utter disgrace of an “interview” here, if you must:
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.