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In defense of Eric Trump: He didn’t say Dems were plotting to prevent his dad’s rallies

Eric Trump
Ali Shaker/VOA
Eric Trump

I rise in defense of Trump. Not Donald, exactly, but son Eric Trump. I rise to defend him against a small slander by Slate magazine that misrepresented – intentionally or un- — what I believe Eric Trump was trying to say when he said that Democrats are reveling in the coronavirus pandemic and are especially thrilled that it prevents Donald Sr. from holding rallies.

What E. Trump said was ridiculous enough. More on that below. But it was a fair bit less ridiculous than the Slate headline suggested. The headline: “Eric Trump: Coronavirus Shutdowns Are Democratic Plot to Stop Father From Holding Rallies”

Such a statement would be so absurd that not even Eric Trump would say it. And he didn’t.

I defend him not out of solidarity with the Trump son (and notwithstanding the excellence of his first name) but because, in pointing out the absurdity of things that come out of the various Trumpian mouths, it’s important to police one’s own credibility.

E. Trump did indeed complain bitterly that the COVID outbreak is interfering with D. Trump’s ability to hold rallies. (That, of course, is true, and while deeply tragic, possibly not the most horrible consequence of the pandemic.) And E. Trump did say that Democrats were loving this fact. (No evidence was given, but it’s perhaps not the craziest guess that Democrats like the world a bit better with fewer Trump rallies in it.)

I’ll give you the full quote below, which is quite clear in the Slate piece. And what E. Trump said is indeed ridiculous and mockable. But he did not go quite so far as the headline above suggests. He did not suggest that Democrats created coronavirus for political gain, nor is it reasonable to suggest that the Democrats, who currently control one half of one of the three branches of the federal government, have the ability to stop D. Trump from holding rallies in places other than the floor of the U.S. House. So the headline “Eric Trump: Coronavirus Shutdowns Are Democratic Plot to Stop Father From Holding Rallies” is a serious overstretch. And those of us who believe in accuracy should police inaccuracy on all sides.

It is true, as E. Trump suggests, that the various measures taken to combat the coronavirus have prevented D. Trump from holding rallies. It is true that D. Trump loves himself some rallies at a level that borders on creepy and is sadly reminiscent of certain long-ago German and Italian dictators’ rallies.

I’m sure the COVID-induced prevention of rallies is sad for D. Trump, and E. Trump too, and many Trump admirers, among whom I do not number myself. And perhaps it’s not unreasonable to speculate that some Democrats are enjoying the spectacle of D. Trump being sad because of the current no-rallies crisis.

But that’s a couple of logical steps short of what the Slate headline writer wrote, which is that E. Trump suggested Democrats had somehow “plotted” coronavirus shutdowns for this purpose. Nor does the article say so. Nor does it quote E. Trump or anyone else saying so. The headline says so. And it is wrong and I am standing up for accuracy in headlines. Just the headline. The article, so far as I can tell, was accurate.

Here’s what E. Trump actually said, as quoted in the article:

“Listen, Biden loves this. Biden can’t go onstage without making some horrible blunder. I mean even from his basement, he’s making awful gaffes every single day. So, his campaign is thrilled that he’s not going out there,” Eric Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. “They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time.”

I assume E. Trump said exactly that on the Pirro show. But, other than the suggestion that “Biden loves this,” meaning Biden is enjoying the pandemic because he thinks it’s good for his chances of winning the election, which is unlikely, unknowable and an obnoxious thing to say, but it’s not the same as saying that Biden and or Democrats either caused the epidemic or are glad it’s happening, which is pretty much what the headline says E. Trump said.

D. Trump is not a real stickler for factual accuracy, you may have noticed, and perhaps E. Trump isn’t either, but the Slate headline writer should be.

Here’s the other thing from E. Trump’s statements, as relayed by Slate, which may have inspired the headline writer, but still caused him or her to go well beyond the bizarre assertion in the headline:

“With a heavy hint of a conspiracy, Eric Trump said Democrats were ‘trying to deprive’ his father of ‘his greatest asset, which is the fact that the American people love him, the fact that he’s relatable, and the fact that he can go out there and draw massive crowds.’ While Biden ‘can’t get 10 people in a room’ Trump is ‘getting 50,000 in a room.’”

Eric Trump went on to describe that effort as a “very cognizant strategy” that many Democrats are carrying out.

I don’t claim to know what “very cognizant strategy” might mean. We could speculate, but strategies do not cogitate. I don’t claim Eric Trump could straighten out what he means in a way that would make sense, but a generous reading would be that he thinks Democrats benefit from Trump going without his rallies and are doing what they can to milk that advantage, although I can’t complete that thought in a way that would make sense.

And I don’t know exactly why I’m making such a big deal about this, but it doesn’t mean, and it can’t mean, what the headline suggested.

When I saw the headline: I said, “Oh my God, could even Eric Trump have really said that?” And, apparently, he didn’t, although what he did say, which I assume was accurately reflected in the article, was plenty and paranoid enough without needing to be exaggerated.

Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/19/2020 - 10:28 am.

    “Listen, Biden loves this. Biden can’t go onstage without making some horrible blunder. I mean even from his basement, he’s making awful gaffes every single day”

    This from the son of the man who suggested Lysol injections.

    Biden should respond to complaints about his lack of visibility with a simple:

    “I would like to comment on my perceived lack of commenting”

    And follow that with 30 seconds of silence and then:

    “Guess what folks, if you think we need a President who tweets hundreds of times a day, has 2 hour rambling press conferences with incoherent references to Lysol injections and light beam exposures, has an overwhelming need to always be the center of attention and willing to do anything to be it: I’m not your guy. The President does not need to be in everyone’s face everyday. Does not need to stick his finger in the eye of every perceived enemy, real or not. Sometimes, many times, silence will not only suffice, it will be a very welcomed change from the last 4 years.”

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/19/2020 - 10:58 am.

    Even when the bar is low the Trumps can slither under it.
    And THAT Eric is a Trump.

  3. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/19/2020 - 11:22 am.

    “They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time.”

    Reading that quote from Eric Trump, I have to strongly disagree with Eric Black’s conclusion that Slate got it wrong in its headline. Eric Trump did, indeed, indicate that he believes that Democrats have a strategy that denies his father those huge rallies.”They [Democrats] think [action verb] that they’re TAKING AWAY [strong action verb] his strongest tool.”

    Eric Trump goes on, later in the Slate quotations of him, to imply Democratic intentionality, and thus that the pandemic–or, more probably, the lockdowns prompted by the pandemic–were caused/created by Democrats as a means to weaken or defeat Donald Trump’s electoral campaign.

    I see it in his quotations. I also think Eric Black is trying too hard here to be “fair” and is not reading as carefully as he usually does.

    Buck up: Slate’s headline is accurate, Eric!

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/19/2020 - 11:25 am.

    Thanks for clearing that up. Great example of “balance”.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/19/2020 - 12:13 pm.

    Slate is not the place to go for unbiased journalism.

    • Submitted by kurt nelson on 05/19/2020 - 05:43 pm.

      Why not.
      Slates coverage of the Court, specifically Dahlia Lithwick, and Mark David Stern offers some of the best, smartest legal analysis on the interwebs. That’s journalism without bias, and they aren’t making shit up either, just competent, well reasoned explanation of our current legal system, warts and all.

      • Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/20/2020 - 12:36 pm.

        Thanks for pointing out that coverage. Perhaps the google algorithm is to blame; the Slate articles I’m presented are very lefty-clickbait seeming stories, which I try to ignore. Maybe they’re more like fox, with a reliable point of view, but occasional exceptions.

  6. Submitted by lisa miller on 05/19/2020 - 12:15 pm.

    Bottom line is the Trump sons and dad continually try to distort/lie facts so they can stay in power. It’s like we are in a monarchy and the peasants dare not question them.

  7. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/19/2020 - 12:35 pm.

    Since Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has declared victory over the virus I would suggest it is time for the GOP to move their convention to Omaha, pack 20,000 people into the convention center, show their confidence by shunning masks and gobbling hydroxychlorquine. Put 20,000 person Trump rallies at the front and back end to involve as many people as possible. Of course, they all can’t leave the state for 14 days after the convention, but hey! what a great time to tour all that Nebraska has to offer. Not unlike the Mayor of Las Vegas offering to be the canary in the coal mine for virus freedom.

    Thanks Nebraska, we’re behind you all the way!

  8. Submitted by Steve Rudolph on 05/19/2020 - 02:25 pm.

    The article leaves out the rest of Eric Trump’s quote:

    “And you watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and Nov. 3. And guess what, after Nov. 3 coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.”

    • Submitted by Patrick Tice on 05/19/2020 - 04:27 pm.

      This is the kicker. Eric T said that the coronavirus will magically disappear after Nov. 3rd. What else can that possibly mean but exactly what the headline says? This is typical Trumpian side-talk, code for “it’s all made up by the Dems”. I say the Slate headline stands.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/20/2020 - 08:25 am.

        We all know what (who) will magically disappear after Nov. 3.

        Biden V Trump Florida:

        RCP Average 4/16 – 5/12 Biden +3.3
        Florida Atlantic University Biden +6
        FOX News 4/18 – 4/21 Biden +3
        Quinnipiac 4/16 – 4/20 Biden +4

        No Florida, no chance for Trump.

        Mitt gave us “self deporting”, Trump gives us “self defeating”.
        Biden should just stay in his basement playing ping pong with Jill as Trump finds a new demographic to alienate every day…

  9. Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/19/2020 - 04:48 pm.

    Yeah, I think Slate got it right.

    This is a really, really terrible piece. One of Mr. Black’s worst.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/20/2020 - 08:34 am.

      Eric B. did not fault the article.

      He said that the Slate headline implied that Tim Walz and other Governor’s only reason for pandemic shutdowns was to hurt Trump’s reelection chances. I agree with Eric B. that Tim Walz did not have Trumpian prospects as a priority when he shutdown vast portions of our state.

      We can agree that Eric T’s paranoia and mob like “you hit me, I hit you back, twice as hard” is hereditary…

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/20/2020 - 11:02 am.

        The real problem here is the strained bothesides-ism, which Eric B often resorts to. He is capable of being a good journalist, but because of this, much of his work in recent years has been really poor.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/20/2020 - 11:36 am.

          Not to worry, our conservative friends here do not see Eric as a “bothesides-ism” proponent.

          I would say “bothesides-ism” is a part of empathy. And not empathy only as a “mom and apple pie” attribute (which it is), but also as an effort to put one’s self in the boots of their opposites to better understand their thoughts and how to counter them.

          Trump will lose in November in large part due to an inability to perceive the thoughts of others generally and take the suggestions of others specifically. I’m betting he did not run the Lysol injection concept by anyone beforehand and was incapable to think through the “what will people think if I say this” aspects of it.

          Or one can just go with 2008 McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt’s Trump analysis:

          “He’s an imbecile!”

          And who can resist adding this:

          imbecile[ im-buh-sil, -suh l

          Informal. a dunce; blockhead; dolt:
          Don’t stand there like an imbecile. Open the door!.

          Psychology. (no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) a person of the second order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, above the level of idiocy, having a mental age of seven or eight years and an intelligence quotient of 25 to 50.

          Informal. stupid; silly; absurd.

          Usually Offensive. showing mental feebleness or incapacity.

          Archaic. weak or feeble.

  10. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/19/2020 - 06:04 pm.

    Slate is, indeed, not a place to go for unbiased reporting. It is, however, a place to go for well-written, usually fact-based, left of center journalism, and for that I am thankful. As someone who gets multiple pleas for money from the Trump campaign on a daily basis, I look to Slate to provide some degree of balance for what I endure from various Trump spokespersons.

    And, speaking from experience, I expect I’ll forget Eric Trump’s assertion about the virus disappearing by the morning after the election when we actually get to the morning after the election. I hope someone with a better memory remembers to check on that. I’ve not found either Eric or Donald Jr. to be any more credible than their father so far.

  11. Submitted by Roy Everson on 05/20/2020 - 02:07 am.

    Here is an engaging discussion of journalistic practices in which both Eric Black and his critics are correct. Slate is certainly biased anti-Trump, but employs some credible and reliable journalists. Their headlines are clickbait and thus prone to being hyperbolic. The words of E. Trump “They think they’re taking away…” gives some justification for the headline writer’s interpretation. But a more careful news site will avoid the overstatement and let the reader interpret Trump’s meaning. Slate readers should take the headlines with a grain of salt and simply read the writers they trust.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/20/2020 - 10:50 am.

    I do wonder sometimes. could I be as awful and hideous human being as Republicans seem to think I am? And what about both siderism? Do I think they are as awful as they think I am? Are all of us guilty of mutuality of projection?

  13. Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/20/2020 - 11:00 am.

    The mutterings of Tweedledum and Tweedledee Trump are generally inconsequential, as is any reporting on those utterances, accurate or not.

    Trump’s American Nuremberg rallies are a wonderful demonstration of the moral and intellectual degeneration of the American citizenry. And Trump can hold one tomorrow in any Red State governed by a Trumpite stooge like DeSantis (FL) or Kemp (GA) anytime he likes and pay to have it broadcast nationwide as an “info-mercial”. If he doesn’t do it, it’s because doesn’t want to, for some reason.

  14. Submitted by Howard Miller on 05/20/2020 - 04:30 pm.

    My main frustration is that Eric Black, and all of these smart posters

    wasted time parsing how accurate the remarks were from a son of the biggest liar in US political history; a son who himself lies about almost everything

    Shun the Trump klan

    They’re unworthy of scrutiny, except from honest district attorneys

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