Where would the internet be without Donald Trump? He’s like a walking, talking flame war, always there to rekindle our outrage when things get boring. His latest controversy is a double-whammy: debunked 9/11 rumors that border on conspiracy theory, and mocking a reporter with a disability.
Trump has been in the news and all over social media lately for claiming that “thousands and thousands of people” in New Jersey were cheering in the streets as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 - a claim that has been widely debunked by news reports and official statements from New Jersey police. As evidence, Trump cited an article that journalist Serge F. Kovaleski wrote for the Washington Post in September 2001.
Later, at a South Carolina rally, Trump mocked Kovaleski for supposedly backing away from his story. “The poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” he said, flailing his arms around with his hand curled over. “‘Ahhh, I don’t know what I said, uhhh, I don’t remember!’”
Kovaleski has a condition called arthrogryposis, which limits the functioning of his joints and left him with deformed arms and hands. Classy, Trump.
The candidate is now claiming he couldn’t have been mocking the reporter because he has no idea who he is or what he looks like. “If I did know, I would definitely not say anything about his appearance.”
This seems dubious, as Trump comments on people’s appearance all the damn time. Carly Fiorina? Marco Rubio? Heidi Klum? Ringing any bells?
Anyway, now Kovaleski himself is saying Trump is misleading people again, pointing out the number of occasions when Kovaleski has met with him and written features about him, ever since the 1980s.
For the record, the Washington Post article Trump is citing contains a paragraph saying “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties” - but “a number of people” isn’t “thousands and thousands,” and today journalists and police officers agree that these reports were false rumors spread in the panic after the attacks.