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WND's 'Charlottesville Lie' Lie Just Won't Die

Years later, WorldNetDaily still can't stop falsely defending Donald Trump over his statement about a violent 2017 white supremacist protest over the removing of a statue of a Confederate general.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/23/2023

Art Moore

WorldNetDaily just can't stop pushing the "Charlottesville lie" lie -- the narrative that protests against removing a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 weren't racist and that Donald Trump wasn't endorsing white supremacists when he said there was "very fine people" on both sides of the debate that day. Even after ConWebWatch exposed how WND embraced this false narrative in 2021, the lie hasn't stopped.

WND's Art Moore clung to the "Charlottesville lie" lie in an October 2021 article:

The Republicans who formed the Lincoln Project based on their virulent opposition to Donald Trump repeated on Friday the false "very fine" people claim against the former president when the group took responsibility for a bizarre racial stunt at a campaign stop in Charlottesville, Virginia, by Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

After suspicion was raised that the campaign of Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe was behind it, the Lincoln Project took credit for sending five people in white shirts to stand in front of Youngkin's campaign bus holding tiki torches in the style of the 2017 protest in Charlottesville.

In a statement, the Lincoln Project said the demonstration "was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it."

The Lincoln Project pressed Youngkin to denounce Trump for a statement that he did not make.

"We will continue to hold Glenn Youngkin accountable. If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches," the group said. "Until then, we’ll be back."

In fact, during his remarks on Charlottesville four years ago, Trump immediately made it clear he was not referring to "the neo-Nazis and white nationalists" as "fine" people, explicitly declaring "they should be condemned totally."

His reference – as a CNN contributor pointed out in a rebuke to his network colleagues – was to the people on both sides of the issue of whether or not to maintain statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures.

But as we've documented, the group that organized the rally, American Warrior Revolution, considers itself a militia and later effectively blaming counterprotester Heather Heyer for her own death in getting mowed down by a car driven by white supremacist James Fields Jr.

Larry Elder attempted the same argument in a May 2022 column:

In Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, protesters peacefully gathered to support and oppose the removal of a Confederate monument in the public square. A white supremacist intentionally drove his car into the protesters, killing one and injuring five. Then-President Donald Trump, during a press conference about the tragedy, said: "I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. ... 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." He also said, "You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

Critics ignored the "and I'm not talking about" part and accused Trump of defending the attacker and violent protesters as "very fine people on both sides." That lie has become an article of faith for Trump haters.

Moore parroted his own false argument in a Sept. 18 article:

Promoting his United We Stand Summit at the White House – an event intended to "counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety" – President Biden repeated the false "very fine" people claim against former President Trump.

"I decided to run for president after Charlottesville because I believed our story is to unite as one people, one nation, one America," Biden said on his Twitter account Thursday.

"Today, we convened a first-of-its-kind United We Stand Summit held at the White House to make that story clear."

In fact, Trump made it clear during his remarks on the Charlottesville riot in 2017 that he was not referring to "the neo-Nazis and white nationalists" as "fine" people, explicitly declaring "they should be condemned totally."

His reference – as a CNN contributor pointed out in a rebuke to his network colleagues – was to the people on both sides of the issue of whether or not to maintain statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures.

Moore tried to play whataboutism by noting that "Biden, for his part, weighed in on the controversial Confederate flag issue in a 1993 Senate session, declaring that 'many fine people' display it." Again, that was nearly 30 years ago when Americans as a whole were more sanguine about the Confederacy, and his source for the Biden video clip is something called the "Trump War Room," an opposition research Twitter feed run by Trump supporters -- hardly an objective source of information.

Moore keeps trying to make this counter-narrative happen, but he can't fight the facts. This continued embrace of a false narrative is the not sort of thing that inspires confidence in WND's ability to report fairly and accurately.

A very long (and false) defense

Steve Baldwin -- who appears to be the same guy who cranked out an error- and lie-filled "Case for Impeachment" against President Obama for WND a decade ago -- wrote a two-part column purporting to list "7 facts" purporting to distance Trump from the violence at the protests. The first part, published on April 18, began:

The left's false narrative about the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, riot over a statue of Robert E. Lee has become a staple of the left's portrayal of Trump as well as conservatives in general. Joe Biden has repeatedly mentioned this event to push the phony narrative that those on the right are "white supremacists."

Indeed, it is clear that Biden's campaign strategists have decided that promoting a false version of what transpired there, and how Trump reacted to it, will be an important piece of their propaganda offensive, just as it was in the 2020 campaign.

But it's not just Democrats who have demagogued this event; there is little doubt it will also be used by some of Trump's Republican rivals, like Nikki Haley, who has already attacked Trump a number of times on this issue.

As many campaign experts say, once the Democrat Party loses substantial number of black voters, it will become nearly impossible to win nationally, and so false racist narratives have to be created and promoted to keep minorities from leaving the Democrat Party plantation.

The fact that Baldwin refuses to call the Democratic Party by its correct name tells us we're in for a bit of a ride. Indeed, the first "fact" -- that "There is no connection between Trump and the Charlottesville riot" -- is largely irrelevant, beyond vociferously denying that "Trump created the environment that led to the violence in Charlottesville," calling it "a ridiculous allegation with no evidence to support it."

For his second "fact" -- "Trump did not say anything favorable about the violence or the extremists who committed the violence" -- Baldwin framed it in whataboutism:

Unlike Biden, who refuses to condemn Antifa for its violent activities, Trump did condemned extremists on both sides for what occurred in Charlottesville. The left went ballistic when Trump at one point said there were "fine people on both sides," but in the same paragraph he said, "I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists – because they should be condemned totally."

And, indeed, there were hundreds of non-violent protesters on both sides, mostly from Charlottesville, where liberals and conservatives have debated the statue issue for years without any interference from extremist groups. These were the people he was referring to, and he made that clear in several statements. It should also be pointed out that Trump condemned white supremacists and Nazis throughout his presidency, at least 10 times, as documented here.

The left attacked Trump because he didn't specifically condemn the extremists on the day of the riot, but, as he said, "You don't make statements that direct until you know the facts." Since he had already condemned white supremacists and Nazis more than a few times in the months leading up to Charlottesville, he didn't feel the need to do so again when he wasn't even sure of what had transpired. This is a totally reasonable position that completely undermines the left's bogus argument.

Baldwin then portrayed the fight over removing Confederate statues as being about "history," bizarrely likening them to statues of Revolutionary War figures, which nobody is advocating be removed:

Indeed, all over the country "historic preservationist" groups have been debating with liberals about the importance of keeping monuments and statues for historical purposes. Such groups exist in nearly every city or town where Revolutionary War and Civil War statues or monuments exist. They typically raise funds to maintain these monuments, and such groups are usually diverse, both racially and politically.

It was no different in Charlottesville where a number of preservation groups exist such as the Monument Fund and the Friends of Robert E. Lee. Like most preservationist groups, the Charlottesville groups were willing to have a dialog with the left about adding monuments or plaques to the park where the Robert E. Lee statue was in order to give more balance to the history that occurred there. Preservationist groups believe that censoring our history does no good for anyone because there are valuable lessons to be learned from history. Moreover, Robert E. Lee played a key role in healing the country after the war.

Baldwin didn't mention that Confederates are now seen as traitors to the United States for whom statues -- many of which were erected in the South during the Jim Crow era to intimidate black citizens into putting up with discrimination -- really shouldn't be put on public display anymore. He then got around to hinting at the real issue, albeit wrapped in more whataboutism:

After communicating with a number of preservationists, I discovered that many of them did indeed attend the "Unite the Right" protest because they assumed it was organized by garden variety conservatives. They had no idea neo-Nazis were behind it. After all, the protest was organized by out-of-town people. So yes, there were good people present on both sides that day, and anyone from Charlottesville will confirm that if they're honest.

These are the people Trump was referring to as "fine people," and for the media to automatically assume he was complimenting neo-Nazis is outrageous and irresponsible. What's ironic is that many years ago Biden said something positive about what has been considered a white-supremacy symbol – the Confederate flag – and the media were silent. He said that "people who display the Confederate flag" are fine people. Anyone smell hypocrisy?

Again, the group that was protesting the removal of the Confederate statue and Robert E. Lee park renaming was a group calling itself American Warrior Revolution, which considers itself a militia and later effectively blaming Heyer for her own death in getting run over by a white supremacist.

Baldwin then tried to absolve conservatives from blame for any violence under "fact" three, "The conditions for the violent protest were created by the left":

The left's narrative is that this fight was started by the right, but actually the left created the conditions for this event. Virginia state law prohibits cities from removing statues, and yet Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy, both radical leftists, repeatedly attacked the Robert E. Lee statue. Incidentally, Bellamy was forced to step down from the Virginia Board of Education for some racist tweets. Moreover, the city had initially proposed to change the name of the park in question – Lee Park – even though a poll showed the majority of Charlottesville residents were in support of keeping the name Lee Park. Then, contrary to state law, the city then voted 3-2 to remove the statue altogether. It is clear that the City of Charlotteville instigated this fight.

As a result, an out-of-state group, Unite the Right, responded by obtaining a permit to hold a legal protest. While Unite the Right was an extremist group, there is no evidence they were planning to use violence nor did they bring any "militias" to the protest. However, the left brought weapons and even a fully armed militia associated with Antifa called Redneck Revolt, which openly calls for communist revolution. This writer has reviewed hours of video, and it's obvious that the left initiated the vast majority of the violence and possessed most of the weapons.

Baldwin appears to be condoning Unite the Right for purporting not to have planned violence, and he's bizarrely claiming that those who protested the right-wing extremists and white supremacists are just as bad as the white supremacists themselves. Still, he huffed that "It should also be pointed out that the violence was condemned by the local Republican Party and by all the historic preservationist groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans. This event was not organized, promoted or supported by any legitimate Republican Party or conservative group."

In the second part, published the next day, "facts" four and five -- "The failure of the neo-Nazis to muster any kind of a large crowd demonstrates the failure of racist ideology" and "The Unite the Right leaders are not conservatives, nor are they on the right" -- are designed to minimize right-wing involvement and distance the violence from supposedly "real" conservatives. He also suggested that far-right organizers Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler organized the protest as a false-flag operation, though he admits there's no evidence whatsoever to support his conspiracy theory:

Of course, this begs the question, are Kessler and Spencer Democrat operatives who organized this protest simply to create a false narrative about Republicans? Was Charlottesville a setup by the left? After all, it's hard to believe that one could change his ideology from hard-left to neo-Nazi practically overnight, or, in Spencer's case, from promoting Hitler to promoting Biden. There's no evidence for this, but it does seem very fishy, and this question should be asked.

Baldwin then lied about what Nazism is:

What's more is that the "Z" in "Nazi" stands for "socialist" in German. The domestic platform of Hitler's Nazi Party in the 1930s looks almost identical to the Democratic Party platform today – government control of many industries, attacks on free enterprise, socialized health care, regulation of the family unit, attacks on religion, obedience to big government, etc. Remember, Hitler considered himself a socialist, which by definition is on the left.

No, Nazism is not socialism, and Baldwin is lying by claiming otherwise.

For "fact" six, Baldwin was in full blame-the-liberals" mode:

6. The Charlottesville incident was a kick-off for the Antifa/BLM riots that engulfed America's cities a short time later. A short time after Charlottesville, America erupted with hundreds of protests all over the country which cost at least 22 lives and billions of dollars of property damage. The narrative pushed by the left is that such riots were necessary to stem the growing tide of "white supremacy" within the police and society in general.

Nonsense. The real reason is that the Democrats are worried about losing blacks, so they needed to exaggerate the white supremacy threat, even though such extremists are practically extinct. Promoting this phony narrative takes money, and this is why George Soros has poured millions of dollars into groups and causes associated with Antifa/BLM as indicated here and here.
Not only is Soros irrelevant to this discussion, Baldwin failed to mention the actual event that sparked those protests (three years later, not "a short time later"): the police death of George Floyd. Baldwin then criticized the tepid police response as the protests turned violent, but even though this was called out from all sides, Baldwin chose to falsely frame it as a conspiracy: "One has to wonder if the violence that erupted in Charlottesville was desired by the left. ... This is not an attack on the police but rather upon the Democrat-controlled city council, which may have desired the violence for purposes of pushing certain political narratives." Baldwin offered no evidence that the "Democrat-controlled city council" forced police not to respond properly.

Baldwin's final "fact" involved regurgitating tired right-wing attack lines against Democrats (while still getting the name of the Democratic Party deliberately wrong):

7. Charlottesville continues to be one of many incidents the Democratic Party intends to cite to show that Republicans are racist, so expect to see this phony narrative in the coming campaign ads. To counter this, The GOP and conservative groups should not be shy about reminding voters about the roots of the Democrat Party.

Historically, the KKK was the military wing of the Democrat Party, and the party itself was actually formed to perpetuate slavery. The Republican Party was specifically formed to oppose slavery. The Democrats did everything possible to block passage of the historic civil rights laws of the 1960s, supported Jim Crow laws throughout the South and, until just 12 years ago, considered the late Sen. Robert Byrd, a former KKK recruiter, to be one of the Democrat Party's leaders.

Baldwin censored the fact that Byrd repeatedly apologized for his KKK involvement for decades afterward -- to the point that that the NAACP favorably eulogized him upon his death. Baldwin also failed to mention that as part of the civil rights struggle in the 1960s, Republicans and Democrats effectively switched ideologies, with Democrats becoming the party of civil rights and those who refused to accept civil rights -- largely Southern politicians -- becoming Republicans.

In summary: Baldwin's "facts" about Charlottesville are faulty talking points that deliberately overlook actual but inconvenient facts that run counter to his preferred right-wing narrative -- and he doesn't want you to know about any of that.

The lie continues

The same day that it published the second of Baldwin's two columns, an anonymously written April 19 article started off by perpetuating the lie:

A 2017 protest in Charlottesville, Virginia – against the removal of a Confederate monument there – turned into tragedy when a white supremacist turned criminal, driving into the crowd and killing one. He's in jail now.

Still, what's probably is remembered most about that day is what could be called a "big lie," a charge used and re-used by Democrats that President Trump said there were "very fine people" on "both sides" there that day.

It was Larry Elder who explained in a WND commentary what Trump really said.

And that would be, "I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. ... 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."

He then added, "You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

The "lie" about what he said now, Elder explained, "has become an article of faith for Trump haters," and Joe Biden repeatedly has used it.

The article continued by portraying those who were recently arrested for their roles in the riot as victims:

But now a report from NBC News is explaining the day could become known for something else, too.

Felony charges brought against protesters six years after the fact, and after other prosecutors had rejected the cases.

The report said a grand jury, at the behest of the Albemarle County prosecutor, has indicted multiple people on charges of "carrying flaming torches with the intent to intimidate."

James Hingeley, the prosecutor, already has confirmed three defendants in such cases, William Zachary Smith, of Nacona, Texas; Tyler Bradley Dykes, of Bluffton, South Carolina; and Dallas Medina, of Ravenna, Ohio.

Each is accused of one count of "burning an object with the intent of intimidating a person or group of people."

Actually, the report is from the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., not NBC News itself, and it's an Associated Press story, not an original report. But that's not the only bit of deficient research our anonymous WND writer did: there was no mention of the fact that there is no statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia, so the charges are perfectly legal. It also turns out Smith also faced a charge of maliciously releasing gas. Smith later accepted a plea deal in which the gas-release charge was dropped but the object-burning charge remained; WND did no story about this.

Dykes, meanwhile, has also been arrested in a 2020 vandalism spree in which multiple businesses were tagged with swastikas and the words "We Are Everywhere"; he was denied bond, and the vandalism investigation got Dykes kicked out of the Marine Corps Reserves.

These facts, of course, interfere with WND's attempts to perpetuate the lie and portray those being held accountable for their behavior as victims.

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