Via the Free Beacon, we’ve reached a point of stalemate now with the “Trump saw thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrating on 9/11” story where neither side can let go without losing face. Trump’s media strategy is to never apologize or even acknowledge a mistake; the benefit he gains from being the unbowed anti-PC truthteller makes any amount of doubling or tripling down on this claim worthwhile. If worse comes to worst, his supporters can tell themselves that he’s telling a Larger Truth about Muslims in Palestine and other parts of the Middle East celebrating even if he has the particular details fuzzy. The media, meanwhile, doesn’t want to drop this subject even though it knows Trump and his surrogates will continue to double down because it doesn’t want him to conclude that he can avoid being challenged on a false statement if he’s simply dogged enough in asserting its truth. (See, e.g., “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”) What we get here, then, is more of a game than an interview. Tapper’s not going to reward this guy for creating a feedback loop in which Trump says A, his loyal fans agree with A, and then Trump uses their agreement as proof that A is right. And Cohen’s not going to reward Tapper for coming after him by walking this back now and admitting that maybe Trump has the details wrong. If Tapper and the rest of the media can’t find footage of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on 9/11, that must be per Team Trump either because the research process takes time (as Trump himself suggested this morning) or because they don’t want to find it. So we wait. And eventually the media will have to move on. The news cycle will leave it no choice.
A corollary to the idea that Trump never says something that’s inaccurate is the idea that he has one of the world’s greatest memories. (Actually, the very greatest.) The problem, as others have noted, is that that world-class memory tends to get conveniently fuzzy when he needs to not remember something, like meeting that disabled Times reporter repeatedly years ago. Serge Kovaleski claims he and Trump encountered each other a dozen times or so and were on a first-name basis. Leon Wolf points out that when Trump did his now famous imitation of Kovaleski at that rally, he prefaced it by saying “the poor guy, you gotta see this guy” and then mimicked the odd shape of Kovaleski’s hand, suggesting that he really did remember him. I don’t understand why Trump, the great anti-PC warrior, didn’t simply cop to the fact that he was goofing on Kovaleski and tell everyone to lighten up because it was a harmless joke. Trump fans wouldn’t have faulted him for mocking a member of the MSM, right? And if the idea is that Trump needs to show some basic political etiquette for fear of alienating the undecideds, what kind of movement is this really if he’s planning to tone things down once the race gets serious and he’s competing for those votes? Trump minus the Trumpiness isn’t Trump anymore. If he’s going to be PC about obviously mocking Kovaleski, why not also be politically correct (and actually correct) in acknowledging that maybe he was wrong about what he saw on 9/11?
Chris Christie said earlier today that it’s simply not true that thousands of Muslims were celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11. Watch the second clip below for Trump’s reply to that.