It turns out Donald Trump's comments Tuesday about how "Second Amendment people" could stop Hillary Clinton from instituting gun control was not a suggestion of violence, as many in the media reported, but a nod to a unified voting bloc of guns rights supporters. At least, that's what the GOP nominee says.
Trump has once again blamed the "dishonest" media for what he says is an embellishment over his most recent controversy. While many people, including plenty outside of the media, took his comments at a Wilmington, North Carolina, rally as a dangerous dog whistle to his most ardent supporters advocating violence, Trump said the press was merely distracting the public from Clinton's gun control policy and the other real issues in the election.
"Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment," Trump said Tuesday. "By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is. I don't know."
After Trump's comments started grabbing headlines, the GOP nominee tweeted to pin the outrage on media exaggeration.
Trump campaign surrogates echoed the company line, admonishing the media for making something out of nothing. In their minds, Trump was clearly referring to the voting power of Second Amendment defenders and that it was ludicrous to read anything more into the statement. But while there is certainly some wiggle room in Trump's words, it is by no means outrageous to interpret Trump's comments as a veiled threat.
This is nothing new. Here are six other times Trump blamed the media for controversies he brought on himself:
1. The Star
In early July, Trump sent out a tweet that featured Clinton next to what appeared to be a Star of David layered on top of a stack of $100 bills. The specific image had appeared on many white supremacist sites and social media accounts. While Trump was criticized for sharing the arguably anti-Semitic propaganda, the GOP nominee claimed that the media had manufactured the controversy and that the image was clearly a sheriff's badge. He later deleted the original tweet.
2. Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel
In June, Trump attacked Mexican-American Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, alleging that Curiel's heritage barred him from being able to act as an impartial judge in the lawsuit against Trump's business school, Trump University. The comments caused many Republicans to drop their support of the then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but Trump claimed his remarks had just been misinterpreted.
"It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage," Trump said. "I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial."
3. Mike Pence
The announcement that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would be Trump's running mate was less than smooth. Trump's choice was leaked before an official announcement, then denied by the campaign, before reports surfaced that Trump was having second thoughts about choosing Pence. By the time Pence was official, the rollout was already marred by credible reports of chaos inside the Trump campaign. Of course, Trump did not see it that way, blaming the delay on the Nice terror attack in France.
"I'll go a step further with the press," Trump told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "Because of what had happened, the tragedy as you understand, in Nice, I delayed [the Pence announcement] for a day. If I would have had that news conference that morning right after the horrible event that took place in France, that would have been catastrophic. It would have been so disrespectful, and I would have taken a lot of heat. By delaying it for a day, they said 'oh, maybe he is not sure of his choice.' I was 100 percent sure of my choice. It was made up. It was pure fiction by the press."
4. The Baby Incident
Earlier this month, Trump was holding a press conference when a baby started crying in the audience. At first, Trump urged the mother, who was apparently holding the baby, not to worry about the crying. Less than a minute later, though, Trump said that she should take the baby out of the room, seemingly mocking the mother for thinking he was ok with a baby crying while he was speaking. The media, as well as a large portion of the public on social media, criticized Trump for shaming the mother, but Trump insisted that everyone in the room understood he meant his comments in jest.
"The press came out with headlines: ‘Trump throws baby out of arena.’ So dishonest. I mean these are dishonest people. I could give you 20 stories like that. Everyone’s having fun, we’re smiling, I’m waving. Everyone’s having fun, but they say Mr. Trump throws baby. You know how terrible that is? It’s such a lie. And they know it’s a lie," Trump said.
To his credit, Devan Ebert, the mother in question, defended Trump in the wake of the controversy.
5. Veterans Fundraiser
In May, various news outlets, especially the Washington Post, whom Trump would later kick off his campaign, began reporting that the money raised during a highly publicized veterans fundraiser Trump held in January in lieu of attending a Fox News Republican debate — Trump skipped the debate alleging unfair treatment from Fox News — had not all been delivered to the various groups. Trump eventually did make the promised payouts, but denied that the media pressure was necessary to get him to follow through. He even called a press conference to admonish the media for criticizing his charitable actions.
"I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job,” Trump said. "The press should be ashamed of themselves."
6. Megyn Kelly
During the first Republican primary debate in August, Trump received a series of tough questions from Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly, especially regarding Trump's past disparaging comments about women. Overall, Trump seemed to fare well in the debate, but he maintained a grudge about the embarrassing moment. However, Trump took things a step further when he alleged that Kelly had targeted him with unfair questions in an effort to take him down. He drew criticism for seemingly explaining her demeanor during the debate with a reference to menstruation.
"She gets out there and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever," Trump said in an interview with CNN.
Of course, Trump said he did not mean the remarks in that way and that the media was over blowing the story. In any case, the comments kicked off a months-long feud between the candidate and the reporter, contributing to Trump's decision to skip a future Fox News debate.