President Donald Trump early Friday deleted a tweet linking to the main page of Breitbart, a website renowned for its hardline anti-Muslim and anti-immigration coverage, which he posted just as the New Zealand mosque shootings were unfolding, reports Business Insider.
In the now-deleted tweet late Thursday, Trump linked to the homepage of the site without comment at around 11 p.m. East Coast time, roughly an hour after news outlets, including Breitbart, had been reporting on the mosque shootings.
Wow. Trump has deleted his Breitbart tweet after the New Zealand massacre. But screenshots are forever. https://t.co/WG7GUALlnn
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) March 15, 2019
The shooting, which left at least 49 people dead and 20 seriously injured, was live-streamed on Facebook, and the 28-year-old gunman apparently posted an 87-page manifesto which praised Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity.” Three other people have also been arrested, reports NBC News.
Critics questioned why the president chose to link to the site which has long been accused of fostering anti-Islam views with its coverage, and in February 2018, deleted a tweet in which it suggested that Muslims would end the Super Bowl if they controlled America.
Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas tweeted: “Trump could have not responded; responded gracefully; or linked to any other website about the NZ terror attack. He chose Breitbart.”
MSNBC anchor David Gura wrote: “Last night, hours after the terrorist attack in New Zealand, President Trump tweeted a Breitbart News article about the shooting, without comment.”
“Moments ago, 11 hours after the attack, he posted his own tweet. The Breitbart News article no longer appears in his feed.”
I am a New Zealander watching news coverage of a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch. The person who did this is a white supremacist who was probably influenced by the crap spewed by hate sites like Breitbart. YOU are part of the problem for the rise in hate crime.
— Jen Longshaw (@JenLongshaw) March 15, 2019
Apparently he was fresh out of thoughts and prayers.
— John Hart (@farmgeek) March 15, 2019
The president early on Friday tweeted an official message of condolence to the victims of the attack, writing “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
Earlier in the week, Breitbart published an interview with Trump in which he issued an ominous warning to Democrats that his supporters are “tough people” that will not play it tough until they are provoked and pushed “to a certain point.”
“It’s so terrible what’s happening,” Trump told the far-right news outlet.
“You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny,” he said. “I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay?”
He continued: “I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher.”
Trump’s critics accused him of fomenting violence by his backers.
“I think it sounds very much to me like he’s encouraging them to engage in something that’s probably illegal such as assaulting people, you know behave in a dangerous way,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, speaking on MSNBC. “That sounds like a threat to me. I think it’s appalling.”