Jake Turx, a long time contributor to Ami Magazine, was at today’s White House press conference when the exchange took place. The president called on Turx towards the end of the conference, saying that he was looking to take his next question from a “friendly reporter.”
“Are you a friendly reporter?” Trump asked. “Let’s see how friendly he is.”
Turx began his question by saying that he had seen no evidence of any anti-Semitism in the Trump White House but expressing concern over a recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents in recent weeks. seconds into his question, Trump interrupted Turx, telling him to sit down.
Addressing the room the president said, “You see he said he was going to ask a very simple easy question. And it’s not. It’s not. Not a simple question, not a fair question.”
Trump defended himself as “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life” and “the least racist person.”
When Turx tried to clarify his question he was silenced repeatedly by the president, who shot back, “See, he lied about he was going to get up and ask a very straight simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media.”
Trump went on to categorize Turx’s question as repulsive and hateful.
A stunned Turx posted on Twitter “President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I’m going to seek clarification. #TrumpNewsConference.”
Turx did not respond to a request for comment.
Jewish organizations were quick to condemn the president for his words, with David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Congress calling Trump’s reaction “unfair.”
“Instead of answering a timely and legitimate question, the president chose instead chose to besmirch the reporter,” said Harris, noting that the President also dodged a second question at the same press conference on anti-Semitism.
Harris called on President Trump to understand that press conference questions are not intended as personal slights.
“Respectfully, Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather to help solve a problem that, for many, is real and menacing,” said Harris.
CNN video of the press conference shows a bewildered Turx repeatedly shaking his head as the president seemed to interpret the question as an accusation of anti-Semitism.
“In the face of danger, Trump dismisses critics, attacks journalists,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and director of the American Defamation League. “These are not answers to a simple questions: What is he going to do about the surge in anti-Semitism?”
Rechy Frankfurter, senior editor at Ami Magazine said that her reporter’s question was a fair one and that she believes that President Trump misheard the question.
“We actually are heartened that he has such a visceral reaction to anyone calling him an anti-Semite,” said Frankfuter. “It just shows how repulsive anti-Semites are to him and how bothered he is by the accusations that have been unfairly leveled at him.”
Frankfurter said that even after today’s exchange, she believes strongly that the Jewish community has a staunch ally in the Oval Office.
“We believe Donald Trump is a great friend and defender of Jews and always has been,” said Frankfurter.