“Racism is evil,” he said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
The president’s remarks were carried live on all the cable-news channels and as a special report on the broadcast networks as well.
When he was done speaking, Trump walked into the hallway with several of his aides, including Kelly and then–Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. They ducked into the nearest room with a television—a small room on the ground floor used as the office of the White House physician, then Ronny Jackson—to watch how the speech was being received.
Jackson’s office had more than one TV, which made it possible for the president to see how his speech was playing on Trump-friendly Fox News as well as on CNN and MSNBC.
He was outraged by what he saw. Commentators on CNN and MSNBC were calling his comments too little, too late. On Fox News, the statement was called “a course correction.”
The president listened for a few minutes, then turned to his aides.
“This is fucking your fault,” he said. “That’s the last time I do that.”