Donald Trump told a veterans group that they should not believe anything they see or hear on the news that is negative about him, but only what they are told by Trump’s camp directly.
The controversial statement came in a speech Tuesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, where Trump boasted about the economy and defended his raising tariffs on America’s allies. As The Hill noted, Trump also took the opportunity to take aim at one of his favorite targets — the American media.
“This country is doing better than it’s ever done before, economically,” Trump said. “But it’s all working out. Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Trump added that instead, the veterans should “just stick with us” and only believe what the administration tells them.
The president also took aim directly at members of the press who were in attendance.
“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Trump said as he pointed to reporters.
The statements were roundly criticized, with many accusing Trump of trying to create a bubble to protect himself and his supporters from negative coverage of his administration.
"The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes & ears. It was their final, most essential command" – Orwell, "1984"
"Just remember what you're seeing & what you're reading is not what's happening" – Trump during VFW Natl Convention speech on Tue.https://t.co/KzN3S8ipMI
— Wes ???? (@wesley_jordan) July 25, 2018
What you’re seeing and what you’re reading IS what’s happening.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 25, 2018
The visit itself was controversial given Trump’s relationship with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the organization openly called out Trump for his controversial statements including his attacks on Senator John McCain. The group called it “despicable” when Trump claimed that McCain was not a war hero because he was captured after his plane was shot down in Vietnam. In doing so, the group also made reference to Trump’s own deferments during the Vietnam War.
The group also came to the defense of Khizr Khan, the father of a U.S. service member killed in the line of duty, when he came under attack by Trump.
But that appeared to be in the past when it came time for Tuesday’s meeting, and the group said they would welcome the president.
“I think he’ll be well received and in fact I think in the air is a tone of excitement already,” incoming VFW national commander Vincent Lawrence told ABC News. “I think they want to hear the message the president has to bring us, there’s a lot of issues that our membership and our veterans are highly concerned in.”
Donald Trump’s claim that people should not believe what they see or read came on the same day as a New York Times report that claimed Trump threw a fit when Melania turned to CNN while on board Air Force One, leading to a decree that all televisions must be permanently tuned to Fox News.