President Trump made a joke while speaking to law enforcement officers that was portrayed in the media as an endorsement of police brutality.
While speaking about violent gang-members in a speech to law enforcement officers that focused on MS-13, Trump said officers shouldn’t be “too nice” when putting violent criminals in the “paddy wagon.”
He added: “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand over. Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK.'”
President urges officers to commit acts of brutality, officers laugh and cheer wildly. Beginning to think problem isn’t a few bad apples. pic.twitter.com/o1sSgw6lGy
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 28, 2017
Trump’s comment was clearly a joke and, as liberal website Slate pointed out, resembled a famous Jerry Seinfeld joke on the same topic.
Liberal journalists said the joke was an open endorsement of police brutality.
“TRUMP ENDORSES POLICE BRUTALITY,” blared HuffPost’s front page, featuring a story titled: “Donald Trump Endorses Police Brutality In Speech To Cops.”
Other outlets took a similar tone. “Trump promotes police brutality in speech to cops,” reported The Daily Dot. “Trump praises police violence to audience of laughing cops,” left-wing ThinkProgress reported.
“Trump endorsed police brutality in a speech to law enforcement while officers laughed and cheered,” claimed Huffington Post editor Emma Gray. “In a country that already has a pretty pervasive problem with police brutality, Trump endorses their behavior,” wrote HuffPo editor Phillip Lewis.
“Trump just called for cops to rough up suspects more in front of a crowd of cops, they cheered,” claimed Daily Beast writer Colin Jones.
“President Trump is openly and explicitly calling for, to wild applause just moments ago, cops to commit more police brutality,” claimed Daily Beast writer Asawin Suebsaeng.
“This is vile, and shame on every officer who cheered and whooped,” said liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes. MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin claimed the video showed Trump suggesting that “it’s OK for police to rough up the people that they arrest.”
“President Trump spent his Friday afternoon publicly praising police brutality,” claimed left-wing news outlet NowThis.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro was quick to push back against claims that Trump was endorsing police brutality.
“This is all exaggeration. Is it appropriate for Trump to encourage police not to be “too nice” to suspects? Not really. But it’s not police brutality to refrain from putting your hand on the head of a suspect to prevent them from bumping it on a car door. It’s police brutality if you slam their head into the car door,” Shapiro wrote.
He encouraged readers to “watch the tape yourself, rather than reading the headlines blared by an aggressively antipathy-laden media.”