February is Black History Month, and let's just say it's looking like it'll be a very different in the years to come than it was over the last eight. Since 2009, every such month has been paired with the living history of having America's first black president in the White House. Someone who gave the month its proper due and respect, complete with a refined and eloquent knowledge of American history. And what the U.S. has now is, well, not that ― Donald Trump kicked off Black History Month by making the whole thing about himself, complaining about the media's treatment of his presidency and his campaign.
Here's what Trump said about civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to kick off the month, as transcribed by Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star.
Trump didn't stop there. He also spoke about famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, as Dale detailed:
Trump also mentioned some of his cadre of black surrogates and supporters ― specifically former reality TV contestant and Trump black outreach director Omarosa Manigault, and pro-Trump GOP surrogate Paris Dennard ― and commented on what a great secretary of Housing and Urban Development retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson would be.
It should come as no surprise that Trump turned his remarks on Dr. King into a denunciation of the media, considering he similarly spent his time speaking in front of the CIA's Memorial Wall hashing out old feuds and complaining about reporting of his inauguration crowd size.
Even though American history lessons often whitewash the finer details of King's legacy, including his more forceful condemnations of racism, white society, and in particular "the white moderate," it's nonetheless startling that Trump couldn't cobble together an even mildly deferential, mainstream statement. You know, one that wasn't so stereotypically drenched in grievance and self-absorption.
It's also worth noting that the reporter he called out for mistakenly claiming the MLK bust had been moved, Zeke Miller of Time, immediately apologized and retracted his reporting after it was corrected, and his apology was accepted by White House press secretary Sean Spicer the very same night. That didn't stop Spicer from angrily castigating Miller by name the next day during his first introduction to the White House press corps, in a testy performance reportedly ordered by Trump himself. Suffice to say, it seems like the president can't let this one go.