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"Very Fine People" Hoax
The "Very Fine People" Hoax is a political hoax perpetrated against Donald Trump by several news media and politicians. The hoax consists in the claim that, after the events of Unite the Right at Charlottesville in August 2017, President Donald Trump said that there were "very fine people" among the Neo-Nazis, White nationalist, and/or White supremacists at the riot. Some of the news media perpetrating the hoax are: The Atlantic, ABC News, The Huffington Post, Metro, and NY Daily News. Among the politicians repeating them there are: Kamala Harris and Congressman John Dingell.
See Unite the Right for more information.
The spread of the "very fine people hoax" happened after the events of the Unite the Right, a rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, from August 11 to 12, 2017. The rally occurred amidst controversy generated by the removal of the statie of Robert E. Lee by local governments. The rally had protesters including neo-Nazi, white supremacists, and white supremacists, and counter-protesters including Antifa. The event turned violent after protesters clashed with counter-protesters, resulting in more than 30 injured, and on August 12 white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing one person and injuring 35 others.
The press conference
Below the full video of the press conference held on August 15, 2017, when President Donald Trump addressed the events in Charlottesville. The sentences at the origin of the very fine people hoax happened at time 18:53.
At minute 15:00, before the "very fine people" sentence, Trump already condemned Neo-Nazis:
(15:00) Reporter: Do you think what you call the alt left is the same as neo-Nazis? (15:03) Trump: Those people – all of those people, excuse me – I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.
The "very fine people" sentence was said at minute 18:20
(18:20) Reporter: The neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville. (18:24) Trump: Excuse me, they didn't put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group – excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
Answering the next question, Donald Trump repeated that Neo-Nazis and white nationalists should be condemned totally:
(18:53) Reporter: George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same. (18:55) Trump: Oh no, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down – excuse me. Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Okay, good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? You know what? It’s fine, you’re changing history, you’re changing culture, and you had people – and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.
The very fine people hoax is perpetrated by showing a clip or a transcript of Donald Trump saying: "But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides." taken out of context, that is, omitting the parts when Trump said he is not talking about neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Even after seeing the whole context, some of the people who are convinced of the hoax keep believing it, in an instance of the psychological mechanism known as belief perseverance (maintaining a belief despite new information that contradicts it). These people can come up with some rationalizations, such as:
- "All people against the removal of the statue were neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or white nationalists. So by calling any of them "very fine people", Trump called neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or white nationalists "very fine people"." This explanation is wrong is several ways. First, being against the removal of a Confederate statue does not imply being a neo-Nazis, white supremacist, or white nationalist. It is documented that in Charlottesville there were people protesting against the removal of the statue without belonging to the previous groups, and a poll at the time of the events showed that sixty-two percent of Americans said Confederate statues should remain (when broken down by party, 86 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 44 percent of Democrats said statues should stay). Furthermore, even assuming that all the people at Charlottesville who were against the removal of the statue were neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists, the fact that Trump explicitly said he was not talking about such groups proves his "very fine people" was not referred to such groups. If no other people (other than the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists) were against the removal of the statue, then Trump simply did not understand the events and his "very fine people" was directed to nobody.
- "President Trump defended the white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville on Tuesday, saying they included “some very fine people,”" from Trump Defends White-Nationalist Protesters: 'Some Very Fine People on Both Sides'
- "President Donald Trump lashed out about the criticism of his initial statement about the Charlottesville violence today and quickly went on to blame both sides of protestors for the conflict, adding that there were “very fine people” in both the group of white supremacists and white nationalists as well as the counterprotesters." from Trump lashes out at 'alt-left' in Charlottesville, says 'fine people on both sides'
- Trump Called White Supremacists ‘Very Fine People’ But An Athlete Who Protests Is A ‘Son Of A Bitch’
- Trump refers to white supremacists as ‘very fine people’ during press conference
- President Trump calls white supremacists ‘very fine people,’ blames Charlottesville on ‘both sides’ in bizarre Trump Tower tirade
- "He’s ripped babies from their parents & called neo-Nazis "fine people."" in a tweet
- "President Trump just referred to a group of violent white nationalists, supremacists, segregationists, and neo-Nazis as "very fine people."" in a tweet
- Charlottesville: One killed in violence over US far-right rally
- James A. Fields Jr. sentenced to life in prison in Charlottesville car attack
- "“Good people can go to Charlottesville,” said Michelle Piercy, a night shift worker at a Wichita, Kan., retirement home, who drove all night with a conservative group that opposed the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. After listening to Mr. Trump on Tuesday, she said it was as if he had channeled her and her friends — all gun-loving defenders of free speech, she said, who had no interest in standing with Nazis or white supremacists: “It’s almost like he talked to one of our people.”" from Trump’s Embrace of Racially Charged Past Puts Republicans in Crisis
- Trump's Charlottesville comments twisted by Joe Biden and the media