In a goof that could play into President Trump’s “fake news” complaints, Politico initially published a faulty transcript Tuesday of his defiant remarks on Charlottesville that – thanks to a single word change – made it look like Trump was directly identifying with the white nationalists involved.
The impromptu press conference has resulted in a new wave of bipartisan criticism for the president, who went after the “alt-left” for their alleged role in the deadly violence at the white nationalist rally. Trump said there’s blame on “both sides,” claiming some in attendance were not neo-Nazis and merely in Charlottesville to protest the removal of Confederate symbols.
But a single stray word in the initial Politico transcript fueled his critics even more.
The transcript reflected Trump saying: “Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at us?”
The line quickly spread on social media.
Politico’s own Annie Karni flagged it on Twitter, saying: “Just noticed the use of ‘us’ in this transcript.”
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman then picked up on Karni’s tweet, as did reporters from The Washington Post, CNBC and elsewhere.
The problem was, it was not clear exactly what Trump said at the end of that sentence; he may have simply said, “em.”
Politico, along with some of the reporters who picked up the original transcript, later walked it back.
Politico put out an updated transcript that shows Trump saying: “Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible] – excuse me – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
Politico explained that it updated the transcript after listening to the audio again. A “correction” note at the bottom says, “In a review of the audio, we could not definitively discern Trump's exact words at that moment in the news conference.”
Karni also deleted her original tweet and sent out the new transcript on Twitter.
Haberman clarified as well. “This wasn’t actually ‘us,’ it was ‘em,’ sounded like ‘us’ on audio but video into the feed makes clear it’s ‘em,” she wrote.
The Daily Caller and other outlets called out the transcript issue late Tuesday. Listen to the Trump remarks here:
Regardless of that single line, Trump invited a new wave of bipartisan criticism over his remarks in New York. Republicans who had pressed him to specifically condemn neo-Nazis after a counter-protester was killed in a car attack Saturday renewed their concerns late Tuesday with the president's response.