Republican nominee Donald Trump turned to a familiar target — the media — as he tries to minimize the damage from his comments Tuesday that “Second Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices.
Like many times before, Trump ― in interviews and on Twitter ― tried to quell rising public alarm over something he said by claiming the media got his message wrong. He maintained he said nothing to a North Carolina audience that encouraged violence if Clinton were to win the election. Instead, Trump insisted his off-the-cuff remark was meant to refer to the organizing and voting power of gun owners.
Blaming journalists for using his words against him is one of Trump’s favorite damage-control tactics. It’s an excuse he’s trotted out repeatedly throughout the campaign season.
The media, of course, aren’t the only the ones to get blamed for problems that Trump sees. He’s singled out fellow Republicans for “why the world is a mess,” fire marshals for low attendance at his rallies and cellphone company T-Mobile for “terrible service.”
But when his own statements come back to haunt him, Trump often complains of unfairness in news coverage. Here’s a guide to some, but certainly not all, of the occasions Trump has criticized the press during the campaign.
The time he tweeted a six-pointed star.
Trump endured accusations of anti-Semitism in July after tweeting an image of Hillary Clinton in front of piles of money alongside a six-pointed star containing the words “Most corrupt candidate ever.”
If Trump were to be believed, the image that apparently originated on a white supremacist website actually depicted a sheriff’s badge. It was the “dishonest’ media’s fault, he said, for noting the similarities to the Star of David.
He invited Mike Tyson to the Republican Convention.
The idea of giving a speaking role to former boxing champion and convicted sex offender Mike Tyson at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland didn’t sit well with many after Bloomberg reported the alleged invitation.
Trump, who has accepted Tyson’s endorsement and publicly defended him after his 1992 rape conviction, denied asking him to give a speech. “The media makes everything up,” Trump tweeted.
He responded to the Orlando nightclub shooting with a call to arms.
The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where a lone gunman killed 49 people and wounded dozens more, could have been prevented, Trump said in June, if more people had been armed.
“If we had people, where the bullets were going in the opposite direction, right smack between the eyes of this mania,” Trump said at a rally. “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle and this son of a bitch comes out and starts shooting and one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes boom. You know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks.”
No less than National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre disagreed with Trump’s idea of mixing firearms with alcohol at a club.
After the NRA rebuke, Trump walked back his statement and said he’d merely suggested hiring additional armed staff.
He labeled a U.S.-born federal judge as “Mexican.”
Trump repeatedly criticized Indiana-born U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who’s presiding over a class-action lawsuit against Trump and his defunct Trump University. Trump said he couldn’t expect a fair trial from Curiel because “he’s a Mexican” and urged him to recuse himself from the case. Trump said he suspected his anti-immigration views would prevent the judge from being impartial.
In interviews that followed, Trump doubled down on the racially charged rhetoric. Ultimately, however, he released a statement claiming that his comments had been misinterpreted. “It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage,” he said.
This statement actually contained a double-helping of news media criticism. He also said the press had distorted the perception of Trump University. Former attendees allege they’d been swindled by paying thousands for worthless programs.
“Over the past few weeks, I have watched as the media has reported one inaccuracy after another concerning the ongoing litigation involving Trump University,” Trump said in his statement. “There are several important facts the public should know and that the media has failed to report.”
He promised charitable donations to veterans’ groups.
Instead of attending a Republican debate in January moderated by Fox News, Trump scheduled a fundraiser for military veterans (an event that came to be because of his months-long campaign of criticism against Fox News host Megyn Kelly). Trump hailed the fundraiser as a success, saying it raised $6 million for charities.
He faced persistent questioning from reporters, however, because he refused to document how the money had been donated. In May, he held a press conference in New York, where he itemized the charitable contributions. But he also launched one of his strongest attacks against the press, singling out reporters for personal insults.
“I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job,” Trump said. “The press should be ashamed of themselves.”
He said women should be punished for having abortions.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in March, Trump said “there has to be some form of punishment” for abortion. When Matthews asked him if women who have abortions should be punished, Trump said “yeah.”
But according to Trump, Matthews had confused him. “This was a long, convoluted question,” he said afterward on the friendly airwaves of Fox News. “This was a long discussion and they just cut it out.”
Matthews’ questions appear straightforward as shown in a clip from the segment below.
He wanted more credit for losing the Iowa caucus.
After finishing second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in January’s Republican caucus in Iowa, Trump argued that he didn’t get enough credit for his showing. “The media has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly,” he tweeted. “Brought in record voters and got second highest vote total in history!”
He seems undecided on whether Sen. John McCain is a war hero.
The reality star was only a month into his unlikely quest for the presidency in July 2015 when he disparaged McCain’s record during the Vietnam War. McCain, now a Republican Arizona senator, was tortured and imprisoned in North Vietnam for more than five years after his plane was shot down.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said at the Family Leadership Council in Iowa. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
The comments prompted a backlash, but Trump said that they’d been mischaracterized by the media.
“The next sentence was, ‘He is a war hero.’ I said that, but they never want to play it,” Trump said in one interview.