Oh hush, Piers Morgan.
President Trump has publicly apologised for retweeting far-right group Britain First.
Says he didn’t know who they were. ‘I don’t want to be involved with these people. If you’re telling me they’re horrible racist people. I certainly apologise.’ pic.twitter.com/S1apSWC7rR
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 26, 2018
Your old pal Donald has not “publicly apologized.” Nor was there any “stunning admission” of wrongness. I’m so annoyed I made the headline all-caps. HOW DARE YOU.
Backstory: In a THRILLING GET OF AN INTERVIEW (which you can watch here at The Guardian, but why would you), Piers tells Donald, his former Apprentice colleague, “You retweeted Britain First [the ultra-right Islamophobic British hate group] three times.” Donald replies, “Well, three times — boom boom boom. Quickly. Yeah.” (In other words, it wasn’t REALLY three times because it happened in rapid succession. This must be a law of physics I missed in high school.) Piers continues, “This caused huge, huge anxiety and anger in my country, because Britain First is basically a bunch of racist, fascist–” Trump interrupts “Of course I didn’t know that.” (Why “of course”? Mightn’t we doubt that someone who proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States, blamed “Radical Islamic terror” — facts to the contrary — for an uptick in violent crime in the UK, called Mexicans rapists, said immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS,” and refused to disavow former KKK head David Duke would not “of course” be unaware that Britain First is heinous?)
Piers continues, “Well, that’s what I wanted to clarify…what did you know about them when you did those retweets?” Donald replies, “Well, I know nothing about them, and I know nothing about them today, other than I read a little bit.” (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN. Do you know nothing, or did you read a little bit?) He continues, “Perhaps it was a big story in the UK, but in the United States it wasn’t a big story. I did a retweet…when you do your own social media, it’s fine. When you do those retweets, they can cause problems because you never know who is doing it to start off with.” (By “when you do your own social media,” Donald means “when you compose your own tweets,” which is not the same thing, but we all speak Trumpese now so we know what he was trying to say. Retweeting, on the other hand, can “cause problems” because there is no earthly way of knowing how things mysteriously appear in the Twitter ether, untethered, floating free like red balloons, sans any indication of where they came from, impossible to connect to THE NAME OF THE ORIGINAL TWEETER THAT IS RIGHT ON THE THING THAT YOU RETWEETED. One MIGHT click on it! Or one might Google! Or one might ask Stephen Miller! Just kidding. But given that one had previously retweeted @WhiteGenocideTM, a quote from Mussolini, an image of a bloodied CNN logo, and another image of Trump smacking a golf ball into Hillary Clinton’s head, one maaaaaaaaybe does have an iiiiiinkling of the kind of VIBE the original tweeters were laying down.)
The retweets themselves, lest we forget, were of videos that were all debunked. “MUSLIM MIGRANT BEATS UP DUTCH BOY ON CRUTCHES!” actually depicted two Dutch boys and zero migrants, and the attacker was arrested; “ISLAMIST MOB PUSHES TEENAGE BOY OFF BUILDING AND BEATS HIM TO DEATH!” took place in Egypt years ago and resulted in criminal prosecution and the death penalty; and “MUSLIM DESTROYS A STATUE OF THE VIRGIN MARY!” happened in Syria years ago, not in the UK, like, November.
But here’s the part that matters to us at SorryWatch: Donald tells Piers, “If you’re telling me they’re horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that.”
That is a conditional statement. That is not an apology. There is a Yiddish proverb: If my grandmother had wheels she’d be a wagon. Trump’s “apoogy” lacks wheels. We have written on this site so many times that I refuse to link anymore that the word “if” does not belong in an apology. And this isn’t even an “if anyone was offended” apology! This is a “if these people are bad” (THEY ARE) and “if you do the very basic due diligence to prove to me that they are bad,” (DUE DILIGENCE TRUMP SHOULD HIMSELF HAVE DONE, BOTH BEFORE TWEETING, AND FAILING THAT, AFTER DISCOVERING HE’D RETWEETED LIES THAT ENCOURAGED VIOLENCE), then “I would certainly apologize”!
IF IF IF IF. Gevalt, as my grandmother, olav hashalom, would say.
Bonus: The “if you would like me to do that” puts the onus on Piers,* with the implication that asking Trump to say he’s sorry is IRKSOME and PERFORMATIVE and WEARYING.
My grandmother is (was) not a wagon, and there is absolutely no way this is (was) an apology.
It is, however, an echo of what Trump told his humanizin’ hair-rufflin’ enabler Jimmy Fallon back in 2015, when Jimmy asked him if he had EVER apologized: “I think apologizing’s a great thing but you have to be wrong…I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.” (But first he said, “This was not supposed to be one of the questions.”)
Ergo: Trump would maybe possibly apologize, if Piers tells him to, for retweeting a hate group. He would not, apparently, apologize for the sentiments in the tweets: that Muslims are violent, hate-mongering, civilization-destroying, mob-ruled Christian-hating lunatics. As if he’d ever apologize for implying that.
Sing out, Louise.
*NB: Piers is also a lousy journalist, since the natural follow-up to “If you’re telling me they’re horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that” is “YES, DONALD, I WOULD!” because then Piers might ACTUALLY make news with an ACTUAL Trump apology, but Piers failed to ask the obvious next question, then trumpeted his non-scoop derived from his act of non-journalism.