- President Donald Trump on Monday said the “Fake News Media” is “working overtime” to blame him for a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand last week.
- The alleged shooter praised Trump in a manifesto.
- Trump has faced criticism for not expressing more concern over white nationalism in the wake of the shooting.
President Donald Trump on Monday said the “Fake News Media” is “working overtime” to blame him for a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand that saw dozens of people killed or wounded at two mosques.
“The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one,” Trump said in a tweet. “So Ridiculous!”
The man who claimed responsibility for the attack praised Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” in a 74-page manifesto that espoused white nationalist beliefs.
The shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 51 people, has been deemed terrorism by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
In contrast to other world leaders, Trump did not mention terrorism or bigotry in his initial response to the attack, though other members of the administration did. Trump’s response drew criticism from Democrats and commentators.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday morning encouraged Americans to read the alleged shooter’s manifesto, contending a careful look at it would exonerate the president in the public’s eyes.
.@KellyannePolls is on @foxandfriends urging people to read the New Zealand shooter's entire bigoted manifesto in which he describes Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity & common purpose," because she thinks studying it will somehow prove Trump didn't really inspire him. pic.twitter.com/W8v8gpaEyX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 18, 2019
In the wake of the shooting, Trump was asked whether he believes white nationalism is on the rise around the world.
“I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” Trump told reporters on Friday.
Recent statistics and research has shown a recent increase in violence linked to white nationalists and supremacists.
When asked whether she agreed with Trump about the state of white nationalism in the world, New Zealand’s prime minister said, “No.”
Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said he didn’t believe anyone could say Trump, who called for banning all Muslims from the US during his presidential campaign, is “anti-Muslim.” Mulvaney also said Trump “is not a white supremacist,” adding that attempting to link him to the New Zealand massacre is “absurd.”
Trump controversially blamed “many sides” for deadly violence at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. The president’s response to the events in New Zealand is reminiscent of his overall reaction to Charlottesville, which also produced significant backlash.