Eleven Jews are dead in Pittsburgh, gunned down during Shabbat services allegedly by a man who shared President Trump’s paranoia about a migrant caravan. Pipe bombs were sent to more than a dozen of Trump’s favorite political targets, including the homes of two former presidents, Democratic leaders and CNN.
But let us not lose sight of the real victim here: Donald Trump.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hadn’t given a briefing in nearly a month, so she had a lot of time to build up grievances before Monday afternoon’s session. She emerged half an hour late with a scowl, and read a written statement containing the requisite denunciations of the attack in Pittsburgh and affirmations of Trump’s affection for Jews.
But when the questioning got going, it became clear that she was rather less animated by the pipe bombs and the synagogue massacre than by perceived attacks on Trump by the media.
“The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts,” she began. “That is outrageous.”
She informed Jim Acosta of CNN, to which three pipe bombs were addressed: “It’s irresponsible of a news organization like yours to blame responsibility of a pipe bomb that was not sent by the president — not just blame the president, but blame members of his administration for those heinous acts. I think that is outrageous, and I think it’s irresponsible.”
The Pittsburgh killings and the pipe bombs are not the first time the president has been so viciously victimized. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he said last year. And that was before he was victimized by the very ungrateful people of Puerto Rico after his heroic response to the hurricane there.
But at times such as these, particularly, all of our hearts go out to Trump.
Still, the journalists in the briefing room were not ready to take responsibility for the pain and suffering they have caused the president during the pipe-bomb spree and synagogue shooting.
ABC’s Jon Karl pointed out that “the president’s the one placing blame here.”
He was referring to Trump’s tweet from Monday morning: “There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly.”
“No,” Sanders said, “the president’s not placing blame.” See? He’s even blamed for blaming when he’s not blaming. Blaming the victim again!
“The major news networks’ first public statement was to blame the president, and myself included,” Sanders said. “I mean, that is outrageous.”
Animals! And they wouldn’t stop there.
NBC’s Hallie Jackson asked if the president is capable of “toning down the rhetoric.”
“The very first thing the media did was blame the president,” Sanders repeated.
“Ninety percent of the coverage of everything this president does is negative,” Sanders complained, even though “he got elected by an overwhelming majority of 63 million Americans.”
(I am trying so hard not to be negative or blame the president or Sanders for anything else that I am resorting to parenthesis to point out that he did not, technically, win an overwhelming majority of the vote. Or even a majority.)
“I think it would be nice if, every once in a while, we could focus on a few of the positive things the president has done instead of just attacking him,” Sanders said before calling an end to the briefing and walking out.
Yes, it would be nice. Has Trump not suffered enough?
To relieve my own guilt at bringing the president to this fragile state, I hereby rescind any and all blame I have cast on him. Trump’s rhetoric is not responsible for the pipe bombs or the synagogue shooting or anything else. Also, Trump should be given A-pluses and no blame for all inadequate hurricane responses, he should not be blamed for Russian interference (it was made up by bitter Democrats) and there was no collusion. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote because of fraud, Trump signed more bills than any other president, CNN ratings are at an all-time low, the tax cut was the biggest ever, President Barack Obama bugged Trump Tower, Trump’s inauguration set an attendance record and something bad happened last night in Sweden.
There, you poor, victimized president. No more blame. Now can you tone it down?
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.