Donald Trump on Monday defended a tweet that described Hillary Clinton as “crooked” and that drew heat for containing an image that appeared to originate among white supremacists online. On Twitter, he repeated his frequent criticism of the media, saying the use of a star in a since-deleted tweet was misinterpreted.
Trump tweeted, “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!”
The original tweet, at 9:37 a.m. Shabbos, the day Clinton was meeting with the FBI, showed a red Magen Dovid shape against a backdrop of $100 bills. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee deleted that tweet by 11:19 a.m. and replaced the star with a circle in a subsequent missive. But critics had already picked it up.
“We’ve been alarmed that Mr. Trump hasn’t spoken out vociferously against these anti-Semites and racists and misogynists who continue to support him,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Post. “It’s been outrageous to see him retweeting and now sourcing material from the website and other online resources from this crowd.”
Mic.com reported Sunday, based on Internet sleuthing, that the image in question had previously appeared on “an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump’s rhetoric.” CNN says it has confirmed these origins.
Trump’s defenders had been making the argument that the star was like a sheriff’s badge, not a Star of David.
Trump adviser Ed Brookover said Monday on CNN that “there was never any intention of anti-Semitism.”
He said the campaign had corrected the image and planned to “move on.”
“Not every six-sided star is a Star of David,” he said.
The Clinton campaign, in a statement, said Trump “should be condemning hate, not offering more campaign behavior and rhetoric that engages extremists.”
“Donald Trump’s use of a blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites to promote his campaign would be disturbing enough, but the fact that it’s a part of a pattern should give voters major cause for concern,” Sarah Bard, the campaign’s director of Jewish outreach, said in the statement.
The Post’s Dave Weigel has rounded up similar social media blunders by Trump:
In November 2015, he tweeted a chart of bogus crime data from the fictional “Crime Statistics Bureau,” which wildly overstated how many white people were killed by black people. Charles Johnson, proprietor of the blog Little Green Footballs, traced the image to a Twitter user whose biographic information suggested that “we should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache,” a reference to Adolf Hitler.
In January, Trump retweeted from @WhiteGenocideTM a meme of a destitute-looking former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, and in February he passed on a comment about his rallies from the same source. @WhiteGenocideTM’s account lists its location as “Jewmerica.”
In April, Trump retweeted a compliment from an innocuous-looking follower named Jason Bergkamp; a reporter from Fusion quickly discovered that Bergkamp had also praised Hitler.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Chris Mooney