Members of the media and publications appeared to twist President Donald Trump’s words about George Floyd during a press conference Friday.
Trump was in the midst of a speech about the positive May jobs report when he went on a tangent and began to discuss “equal justice under the law.” He said Floyd, who died in police custody after one officer put his knee on the man’s neck for an extended period of time, would be “saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country … in terms of equality.”
Shortly after, reporters and publications claimed that Trump was saying Floyd would be pleased with the jobs report. However, an extended clip of his comments indicate the president was not saying that. (RELATED: Unemployment Claims Hit 50-Year Low)
“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed,” Trump said. “They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen.”
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now in saying this is a great thing happening for our country. This is a great day for him, a great day for everybody. This is great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of the equality. It’s really what the Constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.”
Members of the press cut short Trump’s first portion of the segment, taking it out of context and suggesting the president was referring to jobs when describing how Floyd would be proud.
“Trump suggests that George Floyd would be happy about the jobs numbers: ‘Hopefully, George is looking down right now in saying this is a great thing happening for our country. A great day for him, a great day for everybody,” New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker tweeted.
Baker deleted his tweet shortly after and admitted that “there’s some question about what Trump was referring to.”
Bloomberg News’ Congress reporter Erik Wasson pushed the fake news too, tweeting that “Trump says that he hopes George Floyd is looking down from heaven and happy about the strong jobs numbers.” It appears as though Wasson also deleted his tweet.
This appears to be one of the many moments where Trump’s speeches become controversial due to his tendency to go off-script.
Some noted that Trump’s comments were not clear, as this portion of the speech came in the midst of a lengthier talk that was focused on jobs numbers. Politico’s Victoria Guida pointed this out.
“In the immediate context of his statement, it doesn’t sound like he was [talking about jobs numbers],” Guida wrote. “But in the broader context, I can understand why people heard it that way.”
Business Insider’s article was updated with an editor’s note also noting “it’s not clear” what “Trump’s unscripted comments about Floyd” were referring to. The publication’s tweet still focuses around the misleading quote.
“This post has been updated to reflect the fact that it’s not clear whether Trump’s unscripted comments about Floyd were in regard to the newly released jobs numbers, the country’s response to widespread protests, or both,” Business Insider wrote in its article.
Policio tweeted the shortened version with a note claiming that “President Trump touted the improved unemployment numbers in the Rose Garden this morning and said they marked a ‘great day’ for George Floyd.”
“Trump on George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis cops: ‘Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘this is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him.'”
CNN’s Brianna Keilar mentioned Trump’s speech on-air and the network ran with the short clip, too.
CNN and @BriKeilarCNN just lied to viewers and took Trump’s words about George Floyd out of context.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 5, 2020
Political pundit David Pakman, former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, CNN’s senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, Politico’s White House reporter Gabby Orr and anchor Andrew Mitchell were just a few other notable names who pushed the out of context quote. Pakman and Orr appear to have deleted their tweets.
And here are some brands who didn’t both to do an iota of fact checking pic.twitter.com/t9AAMwl7Pv
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 5, 2020
“Horrifyingly stupid,” the Washington Post’s conservative political columnist Jennifer Rubin tweeted in reply to Politico’s claim.
The Democratic National Committee also pushed the fake news.
The DNC War Room got in on the lies too pic.twitter.com/5KD8PCiZ2B
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 5, 2020
In addition to Politico’s misleading tweet, other publications were quick to bungle their reports. ABC News headlined an article claiming “Trump calls improved jobs numbers ‘great day’ for George Floyd,'” despite the full clip showing the president had sidetracked from his speech on the jobs report.
“U.S. jobs report represents ‘a great day’ for George Floyd, Trump says,'” a CBC headline falsely claimed.
Trump says George Floyd is ‘looking down’ from heaven because of the marginal unemployment drop.
“It’s a great day for him”
Trump said the new jobs report “hopefully” brings comfort to Floyd, who died after a white Minneapolis cop dug a knee in his neck.https://t.co/g5TRaQiDTG
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 5, 2020
Meanwhile, a few journalists did report on the comments accurately. PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor and The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein were two examples of members of the press who did not take the president’s words out of context.
“President Trump on black people and policing: They have to receive ‘fair treatment’ from law enforcement. … Hopefully George Floyd is looking down and feeling good about what’s happening .. It’s a ‘great day’ for him,” Alcindor tweeted.
“Welp. Trump talks about George Floyd looking down from above and thinking ‘this is a great day’ in terms of equality,” Stein reported.
“This is just pure dishonesty,” conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro wrote. “Trump is explicitly talking about Floyd looking down on the push for equality under law and saying it’s a great day for the country.”