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
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.
Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff's Star, or plain star!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2016
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.
I didn't suggest a database-a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2015
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.”
Once again, #MSM is dishonest. "Schlonged" is not vulgar. When I said Hillary got "schlonged" that meant beaten badly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2015
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2015
When he lost Iowa
The media has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly. Brought in record voters and got second highest vote total in history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
…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.