There was horror and befuddlement after Donald Trump slammed a young ultra-Orthodox reporter who first flattered the U.S. president by using the Yiddish name for grandfather and then pitched him a softball: a chance to speak out against incidents of anti-Semitism. But, as one newspaper put it, it didn’t end well.
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In fact, neo-Nazis and white supremacists have enthusiastically applauded the exchange between Trump and Jake Turx of Ami Magazine.
The much-discussed interchange took place at the president’s extended and rather bizarre press conference Thursday, where it was unclear whether Trump was angry at Turx because, as he said, he had requested an “easy question,” or intentionally misunderstood Turx to be accusing him of being an anti-Semite.
Whatever the reason, Trump ordered Turx to “sit down” and remain “quiet,” and then asserted that he was the “least least anti-Semitic person that you have ever seen in your entire life” and the “least racist person,” and that Turx “was lying that he was going to ask a very straight simple question, you know, welcome to the world of the media.”
As Trump put it, “I hate the charge, I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me, you heard the prime minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him? He said, I have known Donald Trump for a long time and then he said, I get it. You should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question.”
At the website The Daily Stormer – named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer – editor Andrew Anglin wrote that the press conference “was one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.”
A Latino reporter, CNN’s Jim Acosta, has long felt Trump’s wrath, and at Thursday’s press conference African- American journalist April Murray had her own weird experience as well.
Another Stormer writer, Eric Striker, honed in on the exchange with Turx in an article headlined “Trump Dismisses ‘Anti-Semitism’ Wolf-Crier, Identifies Fake Hate Crimes as Fake.” Striker seized on Trump’s assertion that anti-Semitic writings and graffiti were concocted artificially to make him and his supporters look anti-Semitic.
After another reporter Thursday followed up Turx’s question on anti-Semitic incidents, Trump said: “Some of it is written by our opponents. You do know that? Do you understand that? You don’t think anybody would do a thing like that?”
The president continued: “Some of the signs you’ll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump, they’re put up by the other side and you think it’s like playing it straight? No. But you have some of the signs and some of that anger caused by the other side. They’ll do signs and drawing that are inappropriate. It won’t be my people. It will be people on the other side to anger people like you.”
Trump’s words echoed the theory that the threats to Jewish community centers and other anti-Semitic incidents have been contrived to support the premise that Trump’s presidency is ushering in greater racism.
A former “imperial wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, David Duke, has been promoting the theory to his followers. Tweeting a photograph of a Jewish community center that was evacuated in the latest round of threats, he commented: “I wonder who could be placing all those calls? Seems they’d be able to track that down rather easily ... such a dramatic photo.”
Referring to Turx, Striker predicted in The Daily Stormer that “this lice infested ghetto Jew will be getting hardcore press coverage and made into a folk hero for a month straight or more. But on the bright side, Jews will gasp when they realize that A) nobody is listening to their fake news or celebrities anymore, and B) everyone is pretty damn sick of Jews.”
Using the parentheses that have become “alt-right” code for Jews, Striker added: “Every time Trump has a press conference, (((journalists))) demand he use the government to ‘tackle anti-Semitism’ (suppress legal criticism of Jews). Know that a larger proportion of Mexicans in America voted for Donald Trump than Jews, and most representatives in the Jewish community refuse to even recognize Trump as the President (#NotMyPresident), yet they still demand special rights and privileges not afforded to any other group of Americans.”