“Hard to Kill” is a Steven Seagal action thriller from 1990 that garnered scornful reviews, though I loved it as a then-teenager. But that phrase, hard to kill, also aptly describes the “Very Fine People” hoax surrounding Charlottesville and the lingering myth that President Trump praised bigots there.
In recent days, liberal social media rabble-rouser actor Michael Rapaport stated on the Patrick Bet-David podcast that “the Charlottesville, that I ranted about, I was wrong… that there’s good people on both sides, and when you see the full quote, that wasn’t what he [Trump] said.” Rapaport has been a prolific Trump hater, producing vitriolic online rants that frequently go viral, earning him nearly 700,000 followers on X/Twitter.
Good for Rapaport to admit his mistake and to help correct the record. I have spent much of my last five years in media pursuing the same task regarding this pernicious hoax, with some success, aided greatly by influential commentators like Scott Adams and Joel Pollak.
But despite the clear transcript and video evidence exonerating Trump on this issue, many millions of Americans still believe that the 45th President was an open, brazen racist. For this reason, the Charlottesville lie represents perhaps the most damaging myth in American political history. It is hard to exaggerate the fallout from a lie as corrosive and racially charged as this deception.
This Charlottesville hoax surfaces often in American politics, and it formed the stated predicate for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign for the presidency. Biden recklessly lied about Trump, stating: “The president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”
Just last week, reporting from Politico Playbook explained that Biden privately refers to Trump as a “sick fuck.” That animus, according to Politico writer and MSNBC talking head Jonathon Lemire, flows from this hoax: “what really sets Biden off about Trump… Charlottesville.”
In the land of reality, of course, the record is clear that Trump explicitly rejected the hatred and violence of the bigots at Charlottesville. At that contentious—and now infamous—press conference, Trump could not have been more explicit about his “both sides” comment, explaining: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”
“Condemned totally” leaves zero room for interpretation; nonetheless, the corrupt media saw opportunity in carefully truncated and edited clips of Trump’s partial remarks and successfully started a propaganda campaign of calumny that persists to this day.
For those still skeptical or still willing to believe the corporate media narrative on Charlottesville, here is the complete transcript of the presser, my 2019 article from RealClear Politics setting the record straight, an unedited video of Trump’s statements, and finally, my PragerU video explainer which has garnered over 8 million total views.
Notably for me, that PragerU video got me sidelined at CNN, where I worked at the time as a commentator. They outright told me that I would not be booked any longer, but they also insisted on keeping me under contract, keeping me off other television platforms. They could not cite any error in my Prager presentation, nor did the video break any of my contractual obligations to CNN.
But without evidence, CNN’s own media reporter, Oliver Darcy, castigated my work on Twitter, posting: “Calling this a ‘malicious lie’ (which it’s not) and ‘journalistic malfeasance’ (which it’s also not) is a weird thing for someone who is a paid CNN commentator to say, given the network’s accurate reporting on the matter.”
Darcy, then and now, stood unafraid to boldly lie, in spite of the plain evidence that debunks their poisonous narrative about Charlottesville.
So, from here forward, will this “hard to kill” hoax finally perish?
Or, will the partisan press and dishonest Biden persist in this slanderous exploitation to gin up fake outrage and further divide America? Time will tell, but every patriot should do their part to spread the truth about this widely believed fallacy, and even anti-Trump zealots should follow the lead of Michael Rapaport and acknowledge the clear truth on this issue.
Steve Cortes is former senior advisor to President Trump, former commentator for Fox News and CNN, and president of the League of American Workers, a populist right pro-laborer advocacy group.