President Donald Trump Thursday accused Time magazine of implying he’s a racist because of an erroneous pool report that said the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.
(The press pool is made up of a few members of the press who represent the rest of the reporters assigned to cover the White House.)
In reality, the bust had been moved and a Secret Service agent was blocking the view of pool reporter, Zeke Miller of Time. Miller corrected the report and apologized to the president but presidential spokesmen have repeatedly referred to the incident as proof the press does not give Trump a fair shake.
"They're not saying the bust is taken out. What they're saying is I'm a racist. That's what they're saying. That's a very serious charge," Trump said in an interview to be aired Thursday on Fox.
Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs denied the incident was a case of “deliberately false reporting.”
"It was no such thing. We regret that the error occurred," she told the Hill.
On the Sunday talk show circuit, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway complained Trump and his team had been treated “unfairly” by the press.
During the election campaign, Trump painted the black community as impoverished and living in urban hellholes, and repeatedly intimated all Muslims have terrorist leanings and is considering a draft executive order that would ban immigration from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.
Among Trump’s first executive orders is one authorizing construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep people from crossing into the United States illegally and penalizing “sanctuary cities” that provide safe havens for undocumented immigrants. Immigration reform activists have labeled the action racist.
The president also has exhibited his combative side in interactions with the press. Just weeks after the election, Trump met with broadcast executives, expressing a desire for a cordial relationship but complaining about what he saw as “dishonest coverage” and the use of unflattering pictures of him.
He racheted up the tension during his only press conference during the transition Jan. 11 when he slammed CNN, refusing to take a question from its reporter, and labeled BuzzFeed “a pile of garbage.”
Comedian Aziz Ansari called Trump the “Chris Brown of politics” and said some of his followers see his election as permission to revert to racism.
“There’s like this new, lower-case KKK [Ku Klux Klan] movement that started — this kind of casual white supremacy,” Ansari said. “ ‘Oh, let me put my foot in the pool and see how cold this water really is.’ No! No! I’m talking about these people that are running around saying stuff like, ‘Trump won! Go back to Africa!’ ‘Trump won! Go back to Mexico!’ They see me: ‘Trump won, go back — to where you came from.’ “ Ansari’s parents immigrated from India.
Shortly before his inauguration, Trump attacked Rep. John Lewis, R-Ga., when civil rights activist questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election because of efforts by Russia to interfere with the election process. Trump called Lewis “all … talk, no action” and described his congressional district as “crime infested” in tweets.
Lewis was beaten during the civil rights struggle and represents one of the wealthiest congressional districts in Georgia.