Trump holds thoughtful listening session on gun violence, but liberal media harps on his note card


It appears that being prepared can be frowned upon if it offers up a reason to mock the president. 

While many watchdogs have praised President Trump for his willingness to conduct an on-camera conversation about gun violence, critics are trying to discredit the entire event because he had a few notes jotted down on White House stationery.

The Washington Post published an analysis, headlined “This photo of Trump’s notes captures his empathy deficit better than anything,” that mocked the president for holding a card featuring on-message talking points.

President Donald Trump speaks as he hosts a listening session with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Trump, Vice President Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hosted students, teachers and families affected by the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting for a “listening session” at the White House on Wednesday, which lasted close to two hours.

The Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claimed 17 lives. Accused gunman Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 in the rampage, police said. 

During Trump’s session, he did not use a teleprompter, didn’t hold the note card the entire time and never even said a few of the pre-written talking points during the event – but these facts went relatively ignored by the liberal media. 

“Ridiculous. I’ve worked for dozens of elected officials. They all use note cards.”

– Alyssa Farah

The Post’s Aaron Blake broke down the portion of the note card that was visible during the listening session after a photographer from the paper captured a close-up image. Among Blake’s observations are reminders for Trump to show empathy with talking points such as asking victims, “What would you most want me to know about your experience?”

Throughout the hit piece on Trump, Blake makes comments implying that Trump would have been completely clueless without his note card.

“Ridiculous. I’ve worked for dozens of elected officials. They all use note cards,” Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah tweeted.

After Blake examined Trump’s note card like it was the Zapruder film, the Post’s senior reporter turned his attention to criticizing Trump for a variety of recent actions. He called the fact that Trump used a note “pretty striking for a president and not at all striking for Trump” because “through tragedy after tragedy” he has lacked empathy.

Blake accused Trump of focusing on first responders instead of victims, making jokes when he should be somber and attacking political rivals before making a final observation.

“Through it all, it’s been clear that expressing that he feels others’ pain just isn’t his strength,” Blake wrote. “Which is apparently why he needed a couple little reminders Wednesday.”

Farah didn’t see it that way, tweeting, “This was a raw, free-wheeling, honest convo. Often the most serious matters warrant what seems like the most basic prep for remarks. POTUS shd be commended for leading.”

The Washington Post wasn’t the only news organization to harp on Trump’s note card. SFGATE ran a story about it that features a photo gallery of tweets mocking the president for what is essentially being prepared.

New York magazine’s The Cut and The Guardian posted stories about the note card, while The Hill and HuffPost each published a roundup of social media reactions

“This list is like a cheat sheet you’d give to an alien who was trying to pass off as a human with empathy,” author Brian Klaas tweeted in a message that was embeded in the HuffPost story. 

Spin also called it a “cheat sheet,” while MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow sent her 9-million plus followers into a tizzy by pointing out the note on Twitter. Maddow’s message has been liked more than 20,000 times and is littered with anti-Trump replies. 

CNN published a story labeled, “Trump’s note card for Parkland shooting discussion: ‘I hear you,’” that notes he “didn’t appear to use the visible prompts” during the event. 

Students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, along with Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, attended the White House session, along with members of Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization based in Newtown, Conn., and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Students from Friendship Public Charter School, Parkmont, and Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C., also attended.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.