Donald Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix was already a divisive event before the president even landed on the ground in Arizona. But once he took the stage, he managed to make it even worse by going on a rant against the media, discussing his controversial immigration plans, and once again defending his comments on Charlottesville and nullifying any good will he may have had from his comments. While it seemed like a typical Trump rally to start, with the same spectacle that has followed the president to at least 7 others stops since he became president.
Trump was preceded by appearances from Ben Carson, Martin Luther King’s niece Alveda King, and Vice President Mike Pence, seemingly setting a tone that would be about unity, defeating hate, and putting aside the petty differences of the past. Then the president took the stage and quickly veered off to deal with his own vendettas, pettiness, and misleading those watching on television and in attendance. The most egregious moment by far was when Trump pulled out his prepared comments following the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville and proceeded to say he was misquoted by the media and did properly condemn the actions of those in attendance and the murder of counter protestor Heather Heyer. Not only did this focus more his own image than the actual incident itself, he left out the important aspects that actually led to the controversy in the first place:
None of the off-the-cuff remarks from either of the president’s three statements appeared during this rally, leaving the president to only read off prepared statements. Not only does this neglect to address any of the actual criticisms of his comments, but it glosses over those who participated in the rallies, their message, and the death of Heather Heyer who received only a passing mention from the president while he was on stage.
It was far from the only misleading statement the president made, with the comments ranging from the silly to the outrageous. One of the main were his attacks on the media that spun out of his tone-deaf defense of his Charlottesville comments. He pointed out that the media had misquoted him numerous times since he took office, called out several organizations by name, and led the entire crowd in a chant of “CNN Sucks” like it was a WWE event. He also called out the media in attendance for turning their cameras off, a fact that was clearly false to anybody watching from home.