It should be an obvious concept that during a New Day segment called a “Reality Check,” the reporter should make sure that the information is complete and accurate.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on Monday morning, when CNN senior political analyst John Avlon went out of his way in an attempt to connect the terrorist shooting in New Zealand last Friday with President Trump.
In the commentary, Avlon did his best to link Trump’s use of terms like “invasion” and “replacement” -- to words found on “an unsigned rambling manifesto” after the shooting that praised the President as “a symbol of white identity.”
The CNN analyst also stated that while Trump has “no problem” denouncing radical Islamic terrorists, he is “muted at best” in denouncing white nationalists.
According to an article by Breitbart's Joel Pollak, Avlon started his report by “mischaracterizing the President’s response to a question in the Oval Office Friday about whether Trump thought white nationalism was a growing phenomenon.”
The analyst played only a small part of Trump’s response: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess … .”
“Not exactly a full-throated denunciation from the bully pulpit,” Avlon said.
However, Pollak quoted the rest of the President’s comment:
I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet.
They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing.
Next, Avlon listed other instances when the President supposedly made racist remarks.
“We all remember the Charlottesville white nationalist marches,” he said as footage of neo-Nazis marching in a torchlight procession played on a screen behind him. “And we all remember President Trump’s response” that there are “very fine people on both sides.”
Pollak called the video “the same deceptive edit used by several other CNN hosts” because Trump was actually referring to protesters and counter-protesters over removing a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee -- and had specifically excluded neo-Nazis from the comment since he had denounced the group in a speech a day earlier.
Avlon then stated: “What you might not remember is that white nationalists, most notably David Duke, praised the President’s response.”
Pollak replied by noting that Trump had actually condemned Duke six months earlier and called the CNN analyst’s assertion “a flat-out lie.”
“You know what shouldn’t be hard?” Avlon asked. “Condemning the KKK and neo-Nazis.”
“You know what shouldn’t be hard for a news organization whose motto is ‘facts first?’” Pollak replied. “Reporting the facts.”
The CNN reporter then referred to the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue near Pittsburgh in October by white nationalists who accused a Jewish refugee resettlement group of “bringing in invaders that kill our people.”
Even though the President quickly condemned the massacre and visited the synagogue, Avlon continued that “he didn’t stop using that language of ‘invasion’ to describe undocumented immigrants.”
“Now, does this imply incitement by Trump or anything resembling responsibility?” he asked before admitting: “No. but it’s the latest sign of white supremacists taking note of the President’s rhetoric, and these kinds of attacks are not as isolated as the President seems to think.”
Pollak then quoted Trump, who said after the Charlottesville attack:
Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.
Again, so much for Facts First.