In a series of tweets after visiting victims of the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, President Trump accused Sen. Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley of lying in a press conference, insulted 2020 candidate Joe Biden as “boring,” and called Fox News’ Shep Smith worse than “Fake News CNN.”
Trump, facing scrutiny about the degree to which his rhetoric has exacerbated the country’s hate problem, visited victims in both Dayton and El Paso, Texas, where mass shootings this weekend left a combined 31 people dead.
Critics have raised questions about his ability to function as “consoler in chief” during moments of national tragedy.
On his way to El Paso, Trump tweeted about Brown and Whaley: “Just left Dayton, Ohio, where I met with the Victims & families, Law Enforcement, Medical Staff & First Responders. It was a warm & wonderful visit. Tremendous enthusiasm & even Love. Then I saw failed Presidential Candidate (0%) Sherrod Brown & Mayor Whaley totally misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital. Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with. They were all amazing!”
This is false.
While both Brown and Whaley criticized Trump’s past rhetoric, they were only complimentary about his visit to the hospital.
Brown said that Trump “was received well by the patients…They were hurting, he was comforting. He did the right things, Melania did the right things.”
Brown said in a statement in response to Trump’s criticism: “I’ve said before Donald Trump is a bully and bullies are cowards. I don’t care what he says about me. But the people of Dayton deserve a President more focused on protecting them from gun violence than protecting his own ego.”
Whaley, too, was only positive about the hospital visit in the press conference, saying, “I think the victims and the first responders were grateful that the President of the United States came to Dayton.”
She told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin in a separate interview that Trump’s visit was “really appreciated” by the victims and that he was “treated well.”
With politics, not empathy, on his mind he then attacked rival Joe Biden: “Watching Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them, not to mention the fact that our Country will do poorly with him. It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!”
In a speech Wednesday, Biden claimed that Trump has “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation. … How far is it from Trump’s saying this ‘is an invasion’ to the shooter in El Paso declaring ‘his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?’ Not far at all.”
Then Trump decided to pick on his favorite news channel, Fox News: “Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews. Actually, whenever possible, I turn to @OANN!”
Smith, one of the rare Fox News host who has not hesitated to criticize Trump, said on his show: “Thus far they’ve not allowed the press corps to come with them saying it’s not a photo op. Instead, the White House releasing its own pictures of the president’s activities today while keeping the media away. John Roberts is at the White House for us this afternoon. Striking contrast there, John.”
Meanwhile, the press travel pool was told Trump’s hospital visit was closed to pool because this is “about victims…not a photo op.”
But it took the White House just a couple hours to release its own video highlights and photos online.
Footage likely to be used in a campaign ad.