Reporting on President Trump’s press conference Friday, several journalists and news outlets claimed the president said he hoped George Floyd is looking down from heaven and is happy about improving job numbers. A number of news outlets including ABC News, Business Insider, the Independent, and the New York Daily News also made the claim in news stories they published about the press conference.
A conservative media critic who tweets under the handle @AGHamilton29 quickly flagged the claims and pointed out further examples of journalists and news outlets making this claim.
It is true that Trump made the comments at a press conference in which he touted better-than-expected job numbers. But Trump was not referring to those jobs numbers when he mentioned George Floyd. The comments in question came immediately after Trump discussed the role of the National Guard in limiting the damage caused by riots and looting, contrasting places like Minnesota, where the National Guard was active, with New York. Trump said:
“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, color, gender, or creed. They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, “This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.” This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality. It’s really what our Constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.”
There are reasonable arguments to be made that Trump’s comments were tone deaf. But given that he mentioned “George” immediately after talking about “equal justice under the law” and “fair treatment from law enforcement,” and then followed by calling it a “great day in terms of equality,” it’s clear that Trump was referring to equal justice under the law when he mentioned Floyd. He was not “imagining George Floyd’s reaction to the jobs numbers.”
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