Politico chief Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza faced intense backlash on Monday for questioning whether President Trump believed that the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War was a “good thing.”
During Monday’s White House press briefing, Lizza asked White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany about the president’s stance on the removal of monuments to the Confederacy. The issue has come to the forefront as part of the national debate over racism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last month.
President Trump has repeatedly defended the existence of such statues as part of preserving the country’s history and culture.
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“I think a lot of people are trying to understand what his [Trump’s] view of memorializing the Confederacy is … so a couple of questions,” Lizza began. “One, does he believe- does President Trump believe — that it was a good thing that the South lost the Civil War? And then two, does he believe in following NASCAR’s example in banning the Confederate flag from his own events?”
McEnany responded that Lizza’s first question was “absolutely absurd,” and emphasized that the president is “proud of the United States of America.” She then pointed to polling that shows American oppose the removal of Confederate statues and added that the question regarding Confederate flags at Trump events should be directed to the president’s campaign.
Critics posted their own responses to Lizza on Twitter.
“What an absolutely disgusting question by @RyanLizza of @Politico,” Eric Trump reacted.
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“Honestly, solid work @RyanLizza. You’re helping re-elect a person you hate,” Fourth Watch media analyst Steve Krakauer tweeted.
“WTF kind of question is this?” Human Events managing editor Ian Miles Cheong asked.
“This is more than embarrassing,” RealClearNews reporter Philip Wegmann said.
Later in the briefing, McEnany took aim at The New York Times for what she described as “false” reporting that President Trump had been briefed about intelligence that Russia paid Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
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“I really think that it’s time for The New York Times to step back and ask themselves why they’ve been wrong, so wrong so often,” McEnany said before listing multiple examples of the paper’s “erroneous” reporting. “It is inexcusable, the failed Russia reporting of The New York Times. And I think it’s time for The New York Times and also The Washington Post to hand back their Pulitzers.”