The White House chided the media Monday for obsessing about President Trump’s tweet on NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace and the Confederate flag, while failing to ask any questions about a surge of weekend violence in New York City and Chicago.
“I was asked probably 12 questions about the Confederate flag,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said as she wrapped up her press briefing. “This president’s focused on action. I’m a little dismayed that I didn’t receive one question on the deaths that we got in this country this weekend.”
She noted, as she did at the start of her briefing, that shootings in New York City doubled for the third straight week and rose by 142% in one week.
“Not one question,” she said. “I didn’t receive one question about five children who were killed.”
Ms. McEnany pointed out that one of the victims was an 8-year-old girl.
“We want to be focused on securing our streets, making sure no lives are lost because all Black lives matter — that of David Dorn, and that of this 8-year-old girl,” she said. Mr. Dorn was a retired police captain who was shot and killed in St. Louis last month.
Reporters instead pressed Ms. McEnany repeatedly on the president’s reasons for tweeting that Mr. Wallace, the lone Black driver in NASCAR, should apologize for complaining about a hate crime when his team found a rope shaped like a noose in his garage bay. The FBI determined that there was no hate crime, as the rope-pull on a garage door had been there since at least October, when Mr. Wallace’s team wasn’t using that particular garage bay.
The president tweeted that NASCAR ratings have gone down since the “hoax” over the noose and since Mr. Wallace successfully led a move to ban the Confederate flag from NASCAR events.
Mr. Wallace responded to the president’s comment Monday by urging his social media followers to ignore “haters.”
“Always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE!” Mr. Wallace tweeted. “Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when its HATE from the POTUS…Love wins.”
Ms. McEnany said the president “was not taking a position [on the Confederate flag] one way or the other.”
“There was no hate crime, the FBI concluded that, [and] President Trump was merely saying Mr. Wallace should agree with that,” she said. “There was no hate crime here and we should all be grateful for that. Most Americans are great, hard-working people.”
She said the president “wants no part in ‘cancel culture’” and he’s appalled by the media’s “rush to judgment” in cases of alleged racism.
“He rejects this notion that somehow NASCAR men and women who go to these sporting events are racist,” she said.