A press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, President Donald Trump took questions from the media. One White House correspondent, Jake “Turx” Turkeltaub, a frum reporter from Ami magazine, asked the president about the rise of anti-Semitic occurrences in the United States, intimating some connection between those incidents and Trump’s election as president.
The president was going to wrap up the press conference, but announced that it would continue for five more minutes. He then said, “I want to find a friendly reporter.”
He turned to Mr. Turkeltaub and said, “Are you a friendly reporter?” adding to the rest of the crowd, “Watch how friendly he is… Wait, wait. Watch how friendly he is.”
Wearing a large black yarmulka with his name, “Turx,” embroidered on it, Mr. Turkeltaub began by saying, “Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or any of, anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zaidy.
The “least anti-Semitic person” would respectfully answer this very real question about anti-Semitic attacks. pic.twitter.com/eHNYFAyc4E
— Matt Wilstein (@TheMattWilstein) February 16, 2017
“However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it… There has been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks.” said Mr. Turkeltaub. “There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to…”
Mr. Turkeltaub was then cut off the the president, who blasted the reporter for having said that he would ask a “simple, easy question,” rather than the long-winded one he presented. “It’s not. It’s not,” said Trump. “It’s not a simple question. It’s not a fair question.”
Trump told Mr. Turkeltaub to sit down, saying that he understands the rest of his query.
President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I’m going to seek clarification. #TrumpNewsConference
— Jake Turx (@JakeTurx) February 16, 2017
“So here’s the story, folks,” said Trump. “Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican… [Quiet, quiet, quiet.] See, he lied about, he was gonna get up and ask a very straight, simple question, so welcome to the world of the media.
But let me just tell you something…that…I hate the charge. I find it repulsive.
I hate even the question, because people that know me… And you heard the prime minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him, Bibi? He said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time…’ …So you should take that instead of having to get up and asking a very insulting question like that.”
After the press conference, Mr. Turkeltaub took to Twitter, stating that “President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I’m going to seek clarification.”
But the damage was done.