President Trump sparked outrage in both the US and Britain last November when he retweeted three anti-Muslim propaganda videos posted by the leader of a far-right ultranationalist British political party called “Britain First,” a group known for its extreme anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views.
Trump’s tweets prompted a rare rebuke from UK Prime Minister Theresa May who said in a statement that it was “wrong for the president to have done this.” They were also condemned by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, who tweeted: “Britain First is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified” and called on May to “cancel her ill-judged offer of a state visit to President Trump.”
In an interview with Piers Morgan this week, Trump offered a “hypothetical and conditional” non-apology for the tweets when pressed by Morgan for causing “huge, huge anxiety and anger in my country because Britain First is basically a bunch of racist, fascist.”
Morgan touted his interview in a tweet late Thursday night, writing: “President Trump has publicly apologized for retweeting far-right group Britain First.”
But when the footage was released Friday morning, it failed to live up to the hype.
Morgan: You retweeted an organization called Britain First, one of the leaders, three times.
Trump: Well, three times. Boom, boom, boom. Quickly. Yeah.
Morgan: But this caused huge, huge anxiety and anger in my country because Britain First is basically a bunch of racist, fascist—
Trump: Of course I didn’t know that.
Morgan: Well that’s what I wanted to clarify with you. What did you know about them when you did those retweets?
Trump: Well I know nothing about them and I know nothing about them today, other than I read a little bit. And I guess—and again I’m in the United States so I don’t read as much about it. Perhaps it was a big story in Britain, perhaps it was a big story in the U.K., but in the United States, it wasn’t a big story. I did a retweet. … When you do your own tweeting, when you do your own social media, it’s fine. When you do those retweets, they can cause problems because you never know who is doing it to start off with.
Morgan: Can I get an apology out of you just for the retweets of Britain First? I think it would go a long way.
Trump: Here’s what’s fair: If you’re telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you’d like me to do that. I know nothing about them.
Morgan: And you would disavow yourself of people like that?
Trump: I don’t want to be involved with people. But you’re telling me about these people, because I know nothing about these people.
"I would certainly apologize if you'd like me to do that. I know nothing about them."
President Trump answers questions from Piers Morgan about retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by British far-right group Britain First. pic.twitter.com/JIJNqvRynt
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 26, 2018
Several news outlets fell for the non-apology, including NPR who headlined their article: “Trump Offers Apology For Retweeting Anti-Muslim Videos From British Far-Right Party” and Bloomberg, which ran the headline: “Trump Apologizes for Retweets That Strained Relations With U.K.”
NBC News correctly wrote: “Trump almost apologizes for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First”.
The Washinton Post’s first headline read: “Trump apologizes for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from far right British group”.
Trump apologizes for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from far right British group https://t.co/xUDIIoIbkM
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 26, 2018
The headline was later updated to read: “Trump ready to apologize for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from far-right British group”.
Trump’s quasi-apology for retweeting anti-Muslim videos is anything but https://t.co/qzyjMC3vWh
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 26, 2018