In a blatant display of prewritten-narrative “journalism,” reporters for ABC and CNN desperately tried to get Martin Luther King III to disparage President-elect Donald Trump after the two met Monday at Trump Tower. Despite multiple attempts to get MLK’s son to condemn Trump for daring to push back against civil rights leader John Lewis, the reporters failed to get the sensational headline they were clearly hoping to elicit — and yet again demonstrated why the American people are tuning them out.
After King told reporters that his meeting with the president-elect was “very constructive,” three media members tried particularly hard to get something resembling headline-worthy criticism of Trump to publish on MLK Day. The play: get King to slam Trump for criticizing Congressman Lewis, who enjoys a special status among his colleagues for the high-profile role he played in civil rights movement.
King first addressed the media by explaining why he met with Trump in the first place, to discuss voter ID policies.
“Let me briefly not just reiterate but state that we did have a very constructive meeting,” said King. “The seminal right of the modern civil rights movement was the right to vote. My father fought so diligently for it, certainly Congressman John Lewis and many others, Hosea Williams fought for as well. It is very clear that the system is not working at its maximum, and through an op-ed that you may have seen, we provided at least a solution to begin to address a broken voting system. That was the dialogue, most of the dialogue that we talked about constructively. We believe we provided a solution that at least will give everyone an I.D.”
Clearly unsatisfied with the positive tenor of King’s explanation of his “very constructive meeting” with Trump, ABC’s Tom Llamas tried to shift the conversation to the Democrats’ latest grievance: Trump’s rebuke of Lewis for questioning his legitimacy as president.
LLAMAS: Mr. King, as you know, Representative Lewis still has the scars from the March on Selma. Were you offended by the President-elect’s tweet that Representative Lewis is all talk and no action?
King swiped away the blatant attempt at ginning up a quote:
KING: First of all I think that in the heat of emotion, a lot of things get said on both sides and I think that at some point, and I am, as John Lewis and many others are, a bridge builder. The goal is to bring America together and Americans. We are a great nation, but we must become a greater nation, and what my father represented — my mother represented through her life, what I hope that I’m trying to do is always bring people together.
An unidentified reporter then tried again, with a question that for some reason cited some unnamed “woman” who supposedly told him the week before that Trump was going to “have black people up against the wall… literally…”:
REPORTER: Sir, you know many African Americans are very concerned about a Trump presidency. A woman came in here last week and told me he’s going to have black people up against the wall, both literally and figuratively. Did he allay your concerns that he’ll be a president for all people, black and white?
King again brushed away the absurd question with class and patience:
KING: Well certainly he said that, that he is going to represent Americans. He said that over and over again, and I think that we will continue to evaluate that. I think that the nation supports — I believe that’s his intent, but I think also we have to consistently engage with pressure, public pressure. It doesn’t happen automatically. My father and his team understood that, did that, and I think that Americans are prepared to do that.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, whom Trump brutalized in a presser last week, then tried the John Lewis angle again, all but begging King to just give him something critical of Trump to write:
ACOSTA: Sir, but if I may follow up, isn’t there something that cuts to your core when you hear the President-elect refer to John Lewis as all talk and no action? I mean, nothing could be further from the truth, isn’t that right? John Lewis is not all talk and no action.
Asked that way, King of course agreed that Lewis was a man of “action,” but he still wouldn’t take the bait to slam the president-elect:
KING: No, absolutely. I would say John Lewis has demonstrated that he’s action. As I said, things get said on both sides in the heat of emotion and at some point, this nation, we’ve got to move forward. We can’t stay on — I mean, people are literally probably dying. We need to be talking about how do we feed people, how do we clothe people, how do we create the best education system. That’s what we need to be focused on.
Accepting that his and his colleagues’ obvious ploy had failed, Llamas finally just asked King what message he thought his father would give Trump. King’s response to that was certainly also a disappointment: improve the economy. Oops.
KING: This is the final answer I’m going to have because I’m going to reiterate what I just said. I think my father would be concerned about the fact that there are 50 million fact there are 50 or 60 million people living in poverty and somehow, we’ve got to create the climate for all boats to be lifted. In America, with a multi-trillion dollar economy — $20 trillion economy almost, it’s insanity we have poor people in this nation. That’s unacceptable and when we work together, we know we can roll up our sleeves. There’s nothing we as Americans can’t do. Thank you very much.
Transcript via MRC TV.