Donald Trump hosted an event at the White House this morning, and the new president took some time to honor Black History Month, which begins today. When he stuck to the notes that someone had clearly prepared for him, the comments were largely fine. When Trump strayed from the notes and said what was on his mind, the message was ... problematic.For example, here's how the president reflected on the life of Martin Luther King Jr.,
"Last month, we celebrated the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office, and it turned out that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished. It's one of the favorite things ... but they said the statue, the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King was taken out of the office. And uh, it was never even touched. So, I think it was a disgrace, but that's the way the press is. Very unfortunate."
In other words, when Trump thinks of MLK, the president thinks of an incident in which he was personally slighted by a reporter who made a mistake. On Black History Month, King's legacy matters, but what really matters is how much Trump dislikes the press.From there, the president moved on to highlighting some prominent African Americans from history.
"Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. A big impact."
Raise your hand if you sincerely believe Trump knows who Frederick Douglass is, and realizes the legendary abolitionist died 122 years ago.But wait, it gets worse.Looking around the table, Trump singled out Pastor Darrell Scott, for example, who's significant to the president because he saw Scott "defending me on television."Trump then praised CNN contributor Paris Dennard, but said, "I don't watch CNN, so I don't get to see [Dennard] as much. I don't like watching fake news."The president quickly added, apropos of nothing, "Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you."Turning his attention to urban areas, Trump went on to say, "If you remember, I wasn't going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting, I won't go into details, but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. And we're now going to take that to new levels."Not to put too fine a point on this, but Trump predicted
last year that he'd receive 95% of the African-American vote when he runs for re-election. He has a long way to go -- Trump received 8% in 2016.Appearances like this morning's probably won't help matters.