President Trump backed white supremacists Tuesday in a mind-boggling press conference that left even elected Republicans reeling.
But the next morning on Fox and Friends, Trump's most beloved show (his morning tweet rants often reflect exactly what is being covered on Fox News' breakfast program), the president's support of white supremacists received only a small amount of criticism: Only one of the hosts made a gentle criticism and two guests, both of whom were black, spoke out more strongly against the commander in chief's inflammatory comments defending extremists in Charlottesville.
The morning show opened with host Steve Doocy addressing Monday's wild press conference:
Were you watching television yesterday afternoon? If you were, you saw something that you don't see every day. The president of the United States made a gigantic mistake. Donald Trump came out of the golden elevators at Trump Towers and he thought he was going to give a statement and then answer a bunch of questions about infrastructure. That was a mistake, because all of the people who were there in the press pool wanted to talk about Charlottesville. The president was unapologetic. He doubled down. Both sides to blame for Charlottesville, he said.
Just to clarify, Doocy is saying that Trump's biggest mistake was that he thought he was going to talk about infrastructure but that journalists didn't allow him — not that Trump's own comments about Charlottesville were a mistake.
Then Fox played some clips of Trump during his Tuesday press conference, specifically the parts where he blamed the so-called "alt-left" for violence and "charging with clubs in their hands," supported white supremacist protesters who Trump said were just "there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue," and said the words "fake news."
"President condemns hate fueled by bigotry, racism," read the Fox chyron.
Then it was time for the hosts to dissect Trump's remarks:
"It was very Trumpian," said Doocy.
"You were saying this morning, Steve, before the show started, if you were a fan of Donald Trump and his style you loved that press conference. If you are not and looking for a way to get at him, you hated every moment that press conference," noted host Abby Huntsman, apparently an observation Doocy had seen on conservative blog Hot Air.
Host Todd Piro then chimed in:
We are always going to be in a situation where, I think, many people will agree that the comments yesterday may not have been the smartest thing to do following kind of, almost, sort of putting it to bed on Monday. But at the end of the day we do have to remember, regardless of whether you love this president or hate this president, there is an underlying notion that he could cure cancer tomorrow and other people in the media are going to attack him and say he didn't do it the right way.
"Of course," added Huntsman.
The conversation never really got to the meat of what Trump said in the press conference but instead moved toward the sentiment that the president will get criticized no matter what he says.
Doocy then read out some official talking points that the White House had circulated, noting that supporters should say Trump acted appropriately, condemned racism and bigotry, and is being treated unfairly by a hysterical media.
At this point, Huntsman noted that Trump gets flack "no matter if he smiles or doesn't smile" but then went on to criticize Trump for his handing of the press conference, calling it a "missed opportunity."
This was a real opportunity for him to bring this country together, to unite them, to call out hate for what it was. And most importantly, to bring some calm. You know, I think that the country is fired up right now. And I think we left that press conference feeling less calm, feeling more confused about things. And so I do feel like this was a real missed opportunity for him. Are people going to attack him all day long? Yes, they will. I do think he needs to stand up a little stronger for these hate groups. Because they hate Jews. They hate blacks. They wake up hating people and I don't think anyone should stand for that in this country.
After a brief chat about whether removing statues of Confederate leaders was appropriate, the conversation quickly moved on to the Alabama special election, North Korea, and the MS-13 gang.
During the 6 o'clock hour, Huntsman had on political analyst Gianno Caldwell and Johns Hopkins professor Wendy Osefo to discuss the removal of Confederate statues.
But the liberal Osefo took the opportunity to address Trump's handling of Charlottesville:
To be quite honest the takedown of the Confederate soldiers monument in my home state of Durham, North Carolina, is beyond a monument. This is about hatred. This is about white supremacy. To have Heather Heyer killed on US soil by Nazis. To have Deandre Harris beaten and bludgeoned by Nazis. This is not talking points. This is not partisanship. This is human life. As a mother, to hear the president of these United States not sit here and condemn what has happened, as a black woman of two black boys, my heart bleeds. This is not talking points here. This is personal. And we as a nation, as a country, have to do better.
Huntsman seemed flustered, noting that there were "good people on both sides of this debate" – as Trump also pointed out – before punting to Caldwell for his take on the removal of Confederate statues.
Caldwell, instead of sticking to the topic, slammed the president, his voice breaking with emotion and his eyes tearing up:
I come today with a very heavy heart. Last night I couldn't sleep at all. Because President Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country, the very moral fabric in which we've made progress when it comes to race relations in America. He's failed us. It's very unfortunate that our president would say things like he did in that press conference yesterday when he says there are good people on the side of the Nazis. "They weren't all Nazis and they weren't all white supremacists." Mr. President, good people don't pal around with Nazis and white supremacists. Maybe they don't consider themselves white supremacists and Nazis; certainly they hold those views. This has become very troubling. For anyone to come on any network and defend what President Trump did and said at that press conference yesterday is completely lost and the potential to be morally bankrupt.
"Gianno, these are very sensitive topics," said Huntsman, cutting him off.
"Very sensitive," replied Caldwell, wiping away tears. Osefo is also seen in the split shot nodding and wiping away tears.
Instead of continuing the dialogue that the talking heads started on, Huntsman grabbed control of the segment, dismissing Caldwell's comments, and tried to veer the conversation back to the issue of the removal of Confederate statues.
"Both of you have every right to come on here and be emotional and be real and be open about how you are feeling. We are talking though, Gianno, about the debate of these statues, whether they should stay up or go down," said Huntsman.
Later in the show, an interview between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and John Daniel Davidson from conservative news site The Federalist discussing the removal of statues was replayed.
"This is not about the Confederacy. This is not about the Civil War. This is about political power," Davidson said. "And it's about a small group of people on the left trying to exert outsized influence on American politics by following in the footsteps of Mao, of the armed thugs in the Weimar Republic, the Taliban. These are tactics that are well-known. You start by tearing down statues and burning books and eventually you go after people."
Other news covered on Fox and Friends on Wednesday morning:
* The tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and then-attorney general Loretta Lynch
* The Washington Post "is the principal media outlet for hate against Donald Trump."
* The Lincoln Memorial being vandalized with red paint
* Undocumented immigrants being encouraged to become lawyers
* Rising health care premiums because of Obamacare
* Miami not wanting to be labelled a sanctuary city
* A college student in California was "harassed" after she posted a photo to Facebook of her with Vice President Mike Pence
Only mentioned in passing: that today the funeral for Heather Heyer, who died in Charlottesville over the weekend protesting white supremacists, will be held.
Meanwhile, Trump's comments at his Tuesday press conference were a main talking point on other morning shows such as the Today show and CNN's New Day.
Ohio governor and former GOP presidential candidate John Kasich was on the Today show and said that "President Trump needs to listen to the people before he takes this presidency in a place that is not acceptable for our country."
On New Day, Republican Congressman Scott Taylor called the press conference a "failure of leadership" and that "there's no question about it that the responsibility lies with that hate group that organized the protest."
Chris Cuomo also spoke with Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who said that the president "has disappointed all of us."
"For the president to continue to say that this violence is coming from various sides, it's very clear where it's coming from: It's coming from white supremacists who brought their hatred and bigotry into the commonwealth of Virginia," Northam said.