CNN anchor Anderson Cooper opened his broadcast Friday night by accusing President Trump of gaslighting the public on Charlottesville after the president doubled down on his defense of white supremacists by claiming that some of those who attended the Unite the Rally two summers ago were just protesting the taking down of a monument.
Speaking to reporters a day after former Vice President Joe Biden used Trump’s “very fine people” equivocation in his presidential campaign announcement, the president said he was referring to supporters of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the time and “if you look at what I said, you will see that question was answered perfectly."
Noting that it “doesn’t take much to bait President Trump” to self-destruct and revisit one of the lowest points of his presidency, Cooper pointed out that the rally wasn’t just about confederate statues but was instead a gathering of neo-Nazis and white nationalists, and was billed as such.
Showing video of torch-carrying marchers shouting “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil,” the CNN anchor took issue with the idea that there were “fine people on both sides.”
“How many fine people arrived with combat boots and clubs and picked up torches and chanted Nazi slogans?” Cooper asked. “That’s the question. And anti-Semitic ones as well? How many fine people who you know would do that?”
The president, he said, was asking everyone “to believe something contrary” to what we can see “with our own eyes and hear with our own ears” by claiming that people were just at the rally because they felt “very strongly” that “Robert E. Lee is a great general.”
“OK, those white supremacists and neo-Nazis with the tiki torches that you just saw were marching to the Robert E. Lee monument that he’s talking about,” Cooper said, before revisiting the president’s original 2017 remarks.
The Anderson Cooper 360 host finished his monologue by fact-checking the claim that the rally was about statues and monuments, showing posters and quoting a white supremacist organization’s communication promoting the event.
“Quote, although the rally was initially planned in support of the Lee monument which the Jew mayor and his Negroid deputy have marked for destruction, it has become something much bigger than that, now a historic rally which will serve as a rally point and battle cry for the rising alt-right movement.”
“Those are the ads they put out,” he concluded. “Those are some of the fine people the president claims were there.”