Washington Gadfly

WaPo Scribe Falsely Says Trump Didn’t Just Disavow Duke

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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Question: As of Tuesday afternoon, were Monday and Tuesday morning part of the last 48 hours?

For most people, yes.

But at The Washington Post, apparently the answer is no.

At 4:08 p.m. Tuesday Washington Post reporter Janell Ross posted a story on “The Fix” blog titled, “Inside the hectic scene when blacks protesters were removed from a Donald Trump rally.”

Ross started off by writing, “In the past 48 hours, Donald Trump has failed on national TV to resoundingly reject the support of David Duke, a former member of the KKK and white supremacist radio host. He’s said he could not hear the question well. His supporters insist he did distance himself from Duke on Friday.”

Actually, about nine hours earlier, Trump had, yet again, disavowed support from Duke on “Good Morning America.”


This columnist usually tries to cut down quotes to the bare minimum since everybody on the Internet has such short attention spans. But his full comments in a telephone interview are worth quoting here.

“David Duke was disavowed. I disavowed him on Friday. I disavowed right after that because I thought if there was any question and you take a look at Twitter, almost immediately after on Twitter and Facebook, they were disavowed again. I disavowed him every time I speak to somebody virtually and they just keep it going. They keep it going and they said, ‘oh, we never looked at your Twitter account. We never looked at Facebook. ‘I said take a look at Facebook. It was totally disavowed.”

But that was not good enough for “Good Morning” host George Stephanopoulos, who demanded, “Are you prepared right now to make a clear and unequivocal statement renouncing the support of all white supremacists?

Trump replied, “of course, I am,” explaining with typical modesty that, “There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I can. In Palm Beach Florida, I built a club, totally open to everybody that frankly set a new standard in clubs and a new standard in Palm Beach and I’ve gotten great credit for it. That is totally open to everybody. So, of course, I am.”

And on the “Today” show Feb. 29, Trump, after rather curiously blaming a bad earpiece for not answering a question about Duke the day before on CNN, also disavowed him.

In her story, Ross linked to a March 1 Washington Post “Fact Checker” compilation of Trump’s statements on Duke dating back to 1991. His Feb. 29 comments were mentioned, but not the “Good Morning America” ritual denunciation on March 1.

Ross ignored emails and tweets about her column. I also asked, since she was demanding Trump disavow Duke, if she wished to disavow the white Washington Post vice president, who, according to a sworn affidavit he does not dispute, made racist jokes to black subordinates.

But reached on the phone Tuesday, she insisted that that pointing out a materially false statement was merely her caller’s “perspective” and proceeded to hang up.

WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler’s initial defense of his incomplete column also proved an interesting testament to the combination of sloth and liberal bias that is common at his paper.

First, Kessler repeatedly said he would not add the “Good Morning America” interview because it was not “new information” and denied the column as written was “incomplete.”

So a new interview is not “new information?”

Yes, he insisted.

But after more back-and-forth Kessler said he would update the story if he could find the “Good Morning America” transcript. When asked why he thought that would be difficult, Kessler said, “I will update it right now.”

Amazingly, he did.

Kessler deserves credit for showing enough integrity, after initially stonewalling, to do the right thing without public pressure — a rarity in Washington.

But Ross’s story remains uncorrected as of 12:40 p.m. today.

WaPo executive editor Marty Baron did not immediately respond to requests for comment.