Count Pete Buttigieg among those not impressed by Donald Trump’s recent social media summit at the White House.
After months of complaints from Trump and right-wing media that social media sites are silencing conservative voices, Trump decided to hold a private summit that included many famous conservative social media figures, including a number of controversial ones. In attendance were entertainers Diamond and Silk — two black women who described themselves as lifelong Democrats and hosted a little-watched left-wing YouTube talk show, then gained fame when they switched to supporting Trump during the last election cycle. Also there was Ali Alexander, a controversial figure on Twitter who was central in pushing the false claim that Democratic candidate Kamala Harris is not really African American, also questioning her American citizenship.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020, blasted the summit in remarks during a political event in New Hampshire.
“We can’t let this whole conversation be about the president,” Buttigieg said at a campaign stop in Dover, via the Washington Examiner. “Why do you think the president… basically the president of the United States invited the comments section off YouTube to join him in the Rose Garden and then let everybody watch the show?”
The event itself devolved into a near-brawl between former White House aide Sebastian Gorka and Playboy’s White House correspondent, Brian Karem. After Gorka angrily shouted at Karem, the Playboy writer invited him to “go outside and have a long conversation,” People magazine reported. The argument continued on, with others joining in shouting and even chanting in support of Gorka, who attracted controversy during his time in the White House for his ties to a Nazi-linked Hungarian fraternal group.
“Why would he do that?” Buttigieg asked about the social media summit. “Well, the show is mesmerizing. Like all grotesque things, the show is hard to look away from. We’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time. When he lies, we’ve got to name the lie and tell the truth.”
Buttigieg added that when Trump does something wrong, Americans need to be able to confront it and then “move right back to our center of gravity.”
The dig was somewhat out of character for the candidate. Pete Buttigieg has steered away from the more direct attacks on Donald Trump throughout his campaign, opting instead to present a positive outline of what he would do as president.