President Donald Trump spoke in Ohio Friday night, telling the story of how Ulysses S. Grant defeated Robert E. Lee’s forces during the civil war. Naturally, the media couldn’t wait to turn this into a claim of racism against Trump.
Multiple outlets – especially NBC – tweeted edited clips or quotes from Trump’s speech to claim he was “praising” Lee. Because, racism and white supremacy, you know.
WATCH: President Trump says "Robert E. Lee was a great general" during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader "incredible." pic.twitter.com/HhsLI1Mk05
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 13, 2018
Trump praises Robert E. Lee, calls on blacks to 'honor' him with votes https://t.co/BR98vEVa7N
— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) October 13, 2018
.@POTUS: “Robert E. Lee was a great General…”
— Morgan Radford (@MorganRadford) October 13, 2018
The racism in the GOP runs deep. https://t.co/Iq2dLcQW5D
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) October 13, 2018
But Trump didn’t come to the home of Grant to praise Lee. His story was about how Lee was a great general (a fact undisputed by historians) and Grant really wasn’t, but he was still able to defeat the South’s army.
Trump also never called Lee “incredible,” as NBC claims. Trump was talking about Ohio, which “also gave you a general who was incredible. He drank a little bit too much. You know who I’m talking about right?” Everyone in Ohio would know who he’s talking about.
But then Trump starts talking about Lee, which was probably confusing for a press determined to paint him as a racist.
“So, Robert E. Lee was a great general,” Trump said. “And Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee.”
Trump then talked about how Lee “was winning battle after battled after battle” and no other general knew “how the hell to win.”
“And one day, it was looking really bad,” Trump said. “And Lincoln just said, ‘You.’ Hardly knew his name. And they said, ‘Don’t take him, he’s got a drinking problem.’ And Lincoln said, ‘I don’t care what problem he has. You guys aren’t winning.’”
Trump went on to praise Grant, saying he was also a “great general.”
Trump appears to have told the story to compare himself in some way to Grant. Trump doesn’t drink, but the moral of the story appears to be that even someone with a significant flaw can do great things, and someone with all the right credentials can do wrong.
But the media decided to ignore all of that and pretend Trump was praising Lee because of slavery and racism or something.