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For more than a year, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has followed a strategy of diversion: He says something offensive or outrageous to make headlines, then covers up his statements by creating another headline-grabbing moment. And on and on. His favorite diversion method seems to be blaming the “dishonest media” for misconstruing his comments.

But after a while, the pattern is clear: Trump blames the media for misconstruing remarks that would otherwise be crystal clear. The media serves as cover for Trump to pander to his base, allowing him room to make comments that would otherwise be completely out of bounds for a presidential candidate.

Here are eight times Trump has used that tactic to get out of apologizing for inflammatory remarks:

When he included anti-semitic imagery in a tweet against Hillary Clinton

Trump Clinton attack Jewish star

 

After deleting the tweet and facing accusations of intentionally sending an anti-semitic message, Trump tweeted a response that blamed the media for seeing anti-semitism… where it obviously was, in a tweet by a known anti-semite and racist Twitter user which Trump’s social media manager re-posted to his account.

When he claimed Sen. John McCain was only a war hero because he got captured

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said last summer at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

When confronted about his comments by CBS News’ Charlie Rose, Trump blamed his comments on the media’s alleged incomplete coverage.

“If you look a few minutes later at the press conference, you will see. I said, ‘they’re all heroes, captured, not captured, other than Sargent Bergdahl, he’s not a hero. He’s bad news,” he said.

When he did not dismiss the idea of a Muslim data base

Last November, when asked by an MSNBC reporter if there should be  “a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?” Trump replied, “There should be a lot of systems. Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems.”

When his comments drew comparisons to Nazi Germany, Trump took to Twitter.

But Trump’s conscious non-answer to a reporter’s clear question served the exact purpose it was meant to serve: broadcasting to supporters that want a database — and there are lots of them — that he was open to such an idea.

When he said Hillary Clinton got “schlonged” during the 2008 primary race

“Even a race to Obama, she was gonna beat Obama. I don’t know who would be worse, I don’t know, how could it be worse? But she was going to beat — she was favored to win — and she got schlonged, she lost, I mean she lost,” Trump said.

Trump responded to backlash over the use of a vulgar word by attacking the “MSM,” or “mainstream media.”

When he lost Iowa

…although, to be fair, Trump sounds this way whenever he loses something. He blames the media whenever he can, no matter what’s true.

When he refused to disavow infamous white supremacist David Duke

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he “would unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?” Trump claimed ignorance about the subject in order to avoid disavowing the former KKK grand wizard.

“Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I would have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them. And, certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.”

When backlash inevitably followed Trump’s remarks, he blamed a faulty earpiece…

“I was sitting in a house in Florida, with a bad earpiece,” Trump told NBC’s “Today” show. “I could hardly hear what he’s saying. I hear various groups. I don’t mind disavowing anyone. I disavowed Duke the day before at a major conference.”

But, of course, in Donald’s own, jibberish response to Tapper’s original question, he recited all of the necessary details of Tapper’s question: That Duke had endorsed him, and that Tapper was asking whether he disavowed that endorsement. Trump failed to do so, and only after the fact addressed the ensuing storm of criticism.

When he said “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions

During an O’Reilly Factor appearance after a rowdy interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Trump said that his comments about abortion policy during that interview had been edited. “You really need to hear it, the whole thing,” he said. “This is a long, convoluted question — this was a long discussion, and they just cut it out. But it was extremely — it was extremely convoluted.”

MSNBC denied Trump’s claim that the conversation was edited. “Absolutely no part of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was edited out,” the network said in a statement.

But Trump insisted that host Chris Matthews went back and forth about Catholicism and religion, and “went back and forth about that. This was a long, convoluted question, and if in fact abortion is outlawed the person performing the abortion is responsible for the act, not the woman. I’ve had the same stance as Ronald Reagan from the beginning.”

Trump hasn’t had the same stance — he’s changed his stance on abortion throughout his life, and even during the course of his presidential campaign. His comments that abortion doctors should be published for performing abortions where they are illegal was a correction he made to his position after the interview with Matthews exposed the depths of his ignorance of the Republican party line on the issue.

When he said Judge Gonzalo Curiel was unfair to him because he was “Mexican”

Trump released a statement on his website to address criticism over his inflammatory comments against the federal judge handling two class action lawsuits against his Trump University wealth seminar.

“It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial,” the statement read.

But, seriously. Just look at what Trump said, over and over again, about Curiel. You can’t make this stuff up.

When he failed to donate the money he said he would to veterans

Instead of attending a Fox News debate last summer, Trump held a fundraiser for veterans in which he claimed to have raised as much as $6 million, to be donated, he said, to veterans groups. In May, when the media started asking questions about what had happened to the money, Trump cried injustice once again.

“I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job,” Trump said at a New York press conference. “Much of this money was paid out very early, but you have to vet all of these different groups … when you send checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“I don’t want the credit for it, but I shouldn’t be lambasted,” he said. “I’m the only one in the world who could raise almost $6 million for the veterans, have uniform applause by the veterans’ groups and end up being criticized by the press.”

Of course, reporters found that Trump hadn’t donated anywhere near the $6 million he had claimed he would to veterans groups, and that he hadn’t personally donated the $1 million he had pledged at the event. Only after persistent questions did Trump donate his own money, and did he pressure donors who had apparently not lived up to their promises to him to donate money. This was months after the fundraising event.

 

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump jokes about how difficult he says it is for him to listen to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s voice, as he holds a rally with supporters in Fresno, California, U.S. May 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.