Following the horrific domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, the media was on the hunt to cast blame on someone and lump them in with the racist that carried out the attack. And during Sunday’s This Week on ABC, commentator Cokie Roberts found her target in President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to her, they were to blame because they were sending silent signals to white supremacists to empower them.
“The President has to share responsibility,” she exclaimed. “The fact is, through that campaign, he blew all kind of whistles that those of us who grew up in the Jim Crow south, like I did, recognized immediately.”
“It was just calling out to these white supremacists who then felt empowered by it,” Roberts added.
Her fellow ABC commentator, Matthew Dowd, seemed to agree. Although, he spread the blame around and seeming to suggest that anyone who wanted to get tough on immigration played a role. “Who shares responsibility? It's not only the man, it’s not only the movement but anybody that points their fingers at Mexicans and Muslims shares responsibility in this,” he asserted.
Moderator George Stephanopoulos played off of Roberts saying: “To the point of those emboldened by the President’s words,” as he proceeded to read a recent statement from Klansman David Duke in support of the President. “The President can't seem to find words to denounce this,” he spat. Stephanopoulos’ statement was not entirely accurate, because, during the election, candidate Trump rejected Duke's support, albeit after some pressure.
A short time later, Roberts set her sights on Attorney General Jeff Sessions as she continued the debunked smears of him being racists. “Jeff Sessions has gone backwards on a lot of things having to do with race,” she falsely declared. “Taking a look at the Obama federal investigations of how police treat people of color. He's saying, let's not do that anymore.”
She then lied and claimed Sessions was all for keeping black voters suppressed. “He's doing a lot of things that send signals to these white supremacists,” she added.
Robert’s accusations against Attorney General Sessions had zero footing in reality. In fact, Sessions had a record of combating the KKK in his home state of Alabama. When Sessions was a state prosecutor, he sought the death penalty for a Klansman who killed an African-American man in a hate crime. And as Alabama’s Attorney General he drove the state’s Klan chapter into bankruptcy.
These baseless accusations against Sessions and condemnation of Trump only serve to further divide the American people. Their hyperbolic knee-jerk reactions stir up more hate and bitterness while directing it at the wrong people.
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August 13, 2017
9:07:37 AM Eastern
MATTHEW DOWD: And more so, think, when you think about this, who shares responsibility in this? Who shares responsibility? It's not only the man, it’s not only the movement but anybody that points their fingers at Mexicans and Muslims shares responsibility in this.
COKIE ROBERTS: The President has to share responsibility. The fact is through that campaign, he blew all kind of whistles that those of us who grew up in the Jim Crow south, like I did, recognized immediately. It was just calling out to these white supremacists who then felt empowered by it. And the President now not calling them out. You know, he should listen to Nikki Haley, his now U.N. Ambassador. She's the person who started bringing down Confederate monuments. And she did it so graciously, and exactly the right tone, after the killings of Mother Emmanuel Church.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: To the point of those emboldened by the President’s words. David Duke Friday night. Here’s what he said: “We're determined to take our country back. We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believed in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump.” The President can't seem to find words to denounce this.
9:11:21 AM Eastern
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas, we have seen a rise in hate crimes being documented by the Justice Department over this last year.
PIERRE THOMAS: George, while the country has made great progress in terms of race, racism remains a disease that plagues this country. It's like cancer. Even when it's in remission, it's still a threat. Since 2000, we’ve seen a 52 percent increase in the number of hate groups. There were 602 in 2000, there are now 917 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. So this is a really significant issue that always is lurking in the background ready to explode.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cokie Roberts, one of the things we’re going to learn here: Can the President learn from his mistakes?
COKIE ROBERTS: Well, we’ve haven't seen that the past. And the question is whether he can do it in the future. But this is also a really watershed moment for the Justice Department. Because it’s not just categorizing these hate crimes. Jeff Sessions has gone backwards on a lot of things having to do with race. Taking a look at the Obama federal investigations of how police treat people of color. He's saying, let's not do that anymore. Let's keep voting rights suppressed. He's doing a lot of things that send signals to these white supremacists.