Oh Mr. Trump, you’ve done it again…
Front runner for the Republican presidential candidacy with a history of royally putting his foot in it, Donald Trump is once more in the firing line, this time for allegedly mocking a New York Times journalist who suffers from the congenital joint condition arthrogryposis.
On Tuesday at a rally in South Carolina, Trump was defending his recent claim that, “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey were holding tail-gate parties to celebrate the carnage after the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001.
Numerous fact-checkers have since refuted the claim, so to provide further evidence, Trump referred to an article from the Washington Post released straight after the attacks, stating the same thing. It was written by journalist Serge Kovaleski, who has a condition restricting the movement in his arms.
The article states, “Authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”
This reporting was not disputed at the time. However, Kovaleski has recently insisted the article did not substantiate the allegations, much to Trump’s chagrin. In his speech, Trump read from the 2001 article, and offered a rather tasteless imitation of Kovaleski in the process.
“Now, the poor guy — you ought to see the guy: ‘Uh, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember,'” Trump said, as he contorted his arms and flapped them up and down to apparently mimic Kovaleski.
Understandably, the New York Times retaliated, stating its fury that Trump would show such disrespect to one of its journalists, and in such a juvenile manner. “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,” a Times spokeswoman stated.
However, Trump has vehemently denied the notion he cruelly mimicked Kovaleski. He insists he has no idea what the reporter looked like, and was simply imitating what he assumed a flustered journalist would look like in the line of fire. Trump has made a number of statements, both to media outlets and online.
“I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovaleski is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence. I don’t know if he is J.J. Watt or Muhammad Ali in his prime — or somebody of less athletic or physical ability,” Trump said in a statement released to NBC News.
“If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like.”
Not content with his official statement, Trump then initiated a Twitter storm, in which he repeatedly slammed the Times and its reporters. “I do not know the reporter for the @nytimes, or what he looks like. I was showing a person groveling to take back a statement made long ago!” he Tweeted.
Other Twitter comments included, “The failing @nytimes should be focused on good reporting and the papers financial survival and not with constant hits on Donald Trump!”
Okay. Let’s look at the situation logically. We can all agree Donald Trump has made some truly cataclysmic errors in communication during his presidential campaign. Asserting Fox News reporter Meghan Kelly had her period when she was tough on him during the GOP debate is just the tip of the iceberg.
However, perhaps there is cause to take his denial seriously. If you didn’t know the reporter in question, you would assume the footage was indeed a generic (if a little rude) imitation of a flustered journalist retracting a statement. Trump has explained in detail the reasons why his actions had nothing to do with Kovaleski’s condition, and followed up by stating his huge level of respect for the physically handicapped.
“I have tremendous respect for people who are physically challenged and [I] have spent tens of millions of dollars throughout buildings all over the world on making them handicapped accessible,” Trump said, which is certainly true.
Or, could it be a case of ‘he doth protest too much’? After all, when human beings are trying to smooth over a scandal, our instinctual reaction is to declare innocence loudly and often. To say Trump is doing this is a colossal understatement.
However whether it was a disrespectful physical replica of Serge Kovaleski’s condition, or simply body language gone horribly awry, Donald Trump should probably seriously reassess his public speaking skills. Or maybe he shouldn’t. Trump’s level of approval in the polls is currently at 37 per cent, leading Marco Rubio’s 15 per cent by a solid distance, so perhaps the big-mouthed business mogul’s rampant theatricality is, in fact, working for him.
Comment: Do you think Donald Trump was deliberately mocking the Times journalist, or was it a misinterpretation?
Images via youtube.com and twitter.com.