Call this another sterling example of the Forrest Gump Apology. Yesterday, Nicolle Wallace talked with USA Today columnist Paul Reyes about the El Paso shooting and Donald Trump’s responsibility for it. Ryan Saavedra captured the moment in which Wallace blithely accuses the president of “talking about exterminating Latinos,” an argument that Reyes set up:
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace falsely claims that Trump is “talking about exterminating Latinos”
This is a complete lie and is extremely dangerous rhetoric in today’s volatile atmosphere pic.twitter.com/S5Yda6MUQR
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 6, 2019
Er … exterminating Latinos? Granted, this president isn’t terribly careful about his rhetoric and tends to demagogue on immigration issues, and he did use “infest” in talking about immigration and crime in June. But when did Trump even suggest that he wants Latinos exterminated? It started with Reyes, who extrapolated that from “infest,” as he explains in the part of the interview captured by Mediaite:
In her Deadline: White House show on Monday, Wallace had a long discussion about Trump’s rhetoric with Reyes, who said the president’s frequent use of the words “invasion” and “infestation” to refer to illegal immigration implied the need for eradicating immigrants.
“Then he ramped up to the ‘invasion,’ warning people of a caravan and words like ‘infestation,’” Reyes noted of the president. “What do you do with an infestation? The natural conclusion is attempt an extermination. To me, there’s very little distinction between inciting this violence and the fact it’s now happening. Sad to say, it’s probably inevitable. He knows what he’s doing and this resonates with a portion of his base.”
Actually, it’s rather nutty to draw a line between complaining about uncontrolled illegal immigration and crime and an endorsement genocide. Again, Trump might be the least careful president in the modern era about his public language, but his policies aren’t extermination, nor has he ever remotely suggested such a thing. Trump wants to build a wall to prevent uncontrolled border crossings and restrict asylum to its traditional understanding, policies that one can certainly oppose on their own merits and demerits without calling them genocide. Reyes took the idiotic “concentration camp” argument from Democrats and essentially doubled down on it.
Instead of challenging Reyes on his “natural conclusion” and focusing on Trump’s actual policies, Wallace gladly played along in order to wax nostalgic for George W. Bush:
“What do you do when, certainly, the last Republican president fought for, sought and — it’s not ideal — but had 44% of Latino voters. So politically powerful inside the last Republican administration,” Wallace countered. “President Obama used the power of the presidency to try to pass comprehensive immigration reform, with the Latino community, Latino leaders, at the table. You now have a president, as you said, talking about exterminating Latinos.”
It’s worth noting that Democrats called Bush racist at that time, too. And as long as we’re waxing nostalgic for 2004, at that time Democrats expressed support for a wall along the southern border and enforcement of immigration laws, too. Were they also “talking about exterminating Latinos,” I wonder?
Later in the evening, Wallace claimed she had unintentionally erred in accusing Trump of calling for extermination. Rather than acknowledge that she and Reyes dreamed it up, Wallace instead blamed it on the war and that lying SOB Johnson — er, Trump and his rhetoric:
I misspoke about Trump calling for an extermination of Latinos. My mistake was unintentional and I’m sorry. Trump’s constant assault on people of color and his use of the word “invasion” to describe the flow of immigrants is intentional and constant.
— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) August 7, 2019
Come on. The exchange shows it wasn’t unintentional; she agreed with Reyes on the use of the word, and then went one better in saying that Trump was “talking about exterminating Latinos,” as the conversation clearly shows. If Wallace wants to criticize Trump for his use of the words “infest” and “invasion,” that’s absolutely fair game. However, Trump’s hardly alone in viewing the massive caravans as an invasion, which is why his critics want to stuff words into his mouth instead — in order to burn the straw men they create. This is no different, and it was no accident. That’s why Wallace still tried to shift the blame onto Trump in her Forrest Gump apology.