Trump blames ‘crazed’ media for backlash to his ‘send her back’ rally taunts

President Donald Trump has threatened again to close the Mexican border because of what he calls an illegal immigration crisis. AFP/File/Brendan SMIALOWSKI

President Donald Trump has threatened again to close the Mexican border because of what he calls an illegal immigration crisis. AFP/File/Brendan SMIALOWSKI

The US president accused the media of a ‘sick partnership’ with his Democratic opponents.

US President Donald Trump on Friday slammed what he called “crazed” media coverage of taunts targeting a Somali-born Democratic lawmaker during one of his rallies, alleging political bias against him.

Facing a mounting backlash over the cries of “Send her back” aimed at congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Trump accused the media of a “sick partnership” with his Democratic opponents.

“It is amazing how the Fake News Media became ‘crazed’ over the chant ‘send her back’ by a packed Arena…. but is totally calm & accepting of the most vile and disgusting statements made by the three Radical Left Congresswomen,” Trump tweeted.

“Mainstream Media, which has lost all credibility, has either officially or unofficially become a part of the Radical Left Democrat Party,” he continued.

“It is a sick partnership, so pathetic to watch!”

Trump ignited a firestorm at the weekend when he urged Omar and three other progressive Democratic congresswomen of color — all American citizens and three of them US-born – to “go back” to their countries of origin.

Despite the uproar over his comments, condemned as “racist” by the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives, Trump stepped up his attacks at a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, where the incendiary chants broke out.

Trump later sought to disavow the chants, but television footage showed he let them continue for more than 10 seconds before he resumed speaking.

Omar has branded Trump a “fascist” in response.

Merkel says Trump tweets ‘go against what makes America great’

It’s not just the rally that has been controversial, it’s also Trump’s tweets against Omar as well as three other minority Democratic congresswomen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday condemned Trump’s xenophobic tweets against them, saying the US leader’s attacks “go against what makes America great”.

“I firmly distance myself from (the attacks) and I feel solidarity towards” the women, she told journalists.

“In my view, the strength of America lies in that people from different (origins) contributed to what makes the country great.”

Trump on Sunday urged a group of four progressive Democratic congresswomen of colour — all American citizens and three of them US-born — to “go back” to their countries of origin.

Despite a domestic uproar over the comments which were deemed “racist” by the House of Representatives, Trump repeatedly renewed his attack.

“If you’re not happy here, you can leave…. This is about love for America, certain people hate our country,” he tweeted on Tuesday, while repeating the same message to a rally on Wednesday.

International condemnation has rained down over the comments. British Prime Minister Theresa May called them “completely unacceptable”. New Zealand’s leader Jacinda Ardern said she “completely and utterly” disagreed with Trump.

While usually refraining from commenting on other countries’ domestic politics, Merkel on Friday had markedly sharp words about Trump’s latest attacks.

Questions over racism are particularly sensitive in Germany given its Nazi past, and the government routinely speaks out forcefully in favour of tolerance and diversity.

Marked differences

Trump and Merkel’s relationship had been strained from the start, with the US leader haranguing the German chancellor even before he took office.

During his election campaign, the US property mogul called Merkel’s decision to take in a million asylum seekers a “catastrophic mistake” and suggested that she was “ruining Germany”.

While Merkel had shared a visibly warm relationship with former US president Barack Obama, her contact with Trump has been formal and firm.

Besides the striking differences in their personalities, the trained German physicist with a deliberative approach and the brash US billionaire known for his Twitter outbursts also have contrasting views and stances on policies.

Setting the tone in her first phone call with Trump after he took office, Merkel offered cooperation, but also reminded him of democratic values.

That unusual warning led some commentators to suggest she had taken on the mantle of the “leader of the free world”, a title usually reserved for US presidents.

Since then, Trump has repeatedly ripped into Germany for failing to pay its “fair share” for transatlantic defence.

He has also lashed out against Germany’s vital export industry which he claims is harming US producers.

The fraught ties and Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris climate accord led Merkel to draw the startling conclusion that the US may no longer be a reliable partner for Germany and the European Union.

Europe must step up as a player in world affairs, Merkel said in 2017, signalling that the EU needs to take control of its destiny in the Trump era.

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