Today, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was interviewed on MSNBC’s flagship Morning Joe program. Host Mika Brzezinski confronted the candidate about a variety of issues, including his recent refusal to disavow former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke’s endorsement on CNN. Trump maintained that he had always condemned David Duke–something he had indeed done in the past, but failed to do on CNN, despite repeated promptings.
And then Trump offered a bizarre quasi-comparison between Duke and the Jewish Federations:
(For the record, Trump’s response here is a fabrication. He specifically repeated the name “David Duke” in his now infamous CNN interview, and refused to disavow him. No unnamed group was at issue.)
Some might see Trump’s strange likening of Jewish groups to the KKK as an attempt to dog whistle to his bigoted supporters. But more likely, he was simply flailing in a largely nonsensical stream-of-consciousness to avoid answering the question. The problem, in this instance, was not that Trump was trying to express bigotry, but that he did not even recognize that what he was saying could be construed as such. This combination of actual animus and obliviousness is what makes Trump’s rhetoric–and its wall-to-wall coverage by a ratings-hungry news media–so dangerous.