Donald Trump has lashed out against the media for "blaming" him for the far-right terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 50 Muslim worshippers were gunned down at two mosques ahead of Friday prayers last week.
"The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!" Trump tweeted.
The president had expressed his "warmest sympathy and best wishes" in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, later adding he had spoken with the country's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, and told her: "We stand in solidarity with New Zealand – and that any assistance the U.S.A. can give, we stand by ready to help. We love you New Zealand!"
All of which is by the book but, before all that, the president had tweeted a link to Breitbart's coverage of the unfolding atrocity, a post that has since been deleted. That's Breitbart, the alt-right news sight once run by his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.
To many, this was a painful reminder of the president's failure to condemn the actions of neo-Nazis and Klansmen at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, where anti-fascist activist Heather Heyer was run over and killed during heated clashes.
Rather than speak out against white nationalists, Trump called out "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides", failing to distinguish a difference between far-right aggressors and those opposed to their hate speech.
David Duke, the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), had addressed the crowd at Charlottesville that weekend and said:
We are determined to take our country back... We are going to fulfil the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.
When Trump finally did denounce violence at the White House explicitly (having faced intense pressure to do so) he said: "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to what we hold dear as Americans."
A menacing subsequent tweet by Duke in response explains (but doesn't excuse) the president's reluctance to distance himself from far-right causes that cultivate white American anxiety about immigration and multiculturalism.
Put plainly and simply: he needs the votes.
In making the case for his long-promised US-Mexico border wall, the president has routinely derided the "bad hombres" lying in Mexico south of the border, preying on the basest fears of white America.
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he told his audience of well-wishers as he announced his run for the presidency from Trump Tower in Manhattan in June 2015.
In order to justify his recent national emergency declaration - invoking special powers allowing him to bypass Congress and reallocate federal funds to get the wall built in the wake of the 35-day government shutdown - the president has worked hard to paint a sinister picture of the "crisis" in illegal immigration, even quoting former Richard Nixon aide Pat Buchanan as justification, a man he had once written off as a "Hitler lover".
From his so-called Muslim travel ban to his demonising of the migrant caravan crossing Central America from Honduras prior to the midterm elections, the president has consistently engaged in scaremongering to appeal to the concerns of this support base, assisted and enabled by right-wing broadcaster Fox News.
He's even shared material from far-right accounts on Twitter, his preferred method of communication with the American public, of which a choice selection follows.
The first was a video claiming to show "Muslim migrants beating up a Dutch boy on crutches", originating with the group's deputy leader, Jayda Fransen.
The second claimed to show "Muslim destroys statue of Virgin Mary", while a third read, "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death."
Theresa May said it was "wrong" to have shared the posts while Jeremy Corbyn called Trump's actions "abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society".
The exact origins of the videos were obscure but the attacker featured in the first was found to be neither a Muslim nor a migrant but a native of the Netherlands, who had duly been arrested over the incident shown.
Trump often retweets content from Jack Posobiec, an alt-right conspiracy theorist known for spreading the "Pizzagate" urban myth alleging 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was involved in running an underground paedophile ring via a Washington pizza parlour, inspiring one man to fire on the restaurant in question in 2016.
The most glaring of these retweets followed Charlottesville, with Posobiec attempting to shift the national conversation elsewhere:
Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that?
White Genocide, Neil Turner and keksec_org
During the 2016 campaign, Trump thanked White Genocide, Neil Turner and keksec_org among many others for their support - on 22 January, 27 February and 20 April respectively - all of whom subsequently had their Twitter accounts suspended for carrying neo-Nazi hate speech.
"White Genocide" reportedly had a banner reading "Get the f*** out of my country" as the banner on his Twitter page at the time, according to Politico.
Non Dildo'd Goyim
In November 2015, just a year before he won the election, Trump posted a neo-Nazi meme presenting fictitious urban crime statistics, blaming African-Americans for homicides within their own community.
The apparent creator of the figures, going under the nom de web "Non Dildo'd Goyim", describes himself in his Twitter bio as, "A detester of any kind of sick perverted dildo waving marxism and liberalism, we Should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache".
Donald Trump got 6,000+ retweets for what looks like a neo-Nazi meme. https://t.co/qVtEgu2UDP
Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer approved of the above, running a headline: "Donald Tweeting Black-on-White Crime Statistics" and adding, "WE LOVE YOU DONALD TRUMP!!!!"
Even when Donald Trump is not explicitly reposting or engaging with the alt-right, white nationalists or neo-Nazis on social media, he is often guilty of posting anything he regards as favourable to his cause indiscriminately, without checking its origins.
The doctored clip of his 2007 appearance on WWE punching "CNN" had first appeared on a pro-Trump corner of Reddit while a meme attacking "Crooked" Hillary and dealing in anti-semitic tropes that he posted and then deleted on 2 July 2016 came from white supremacists on 8chan, according to Mic.
The blame for that one placed at the door of Dan Scavino, the White House's social media director, who was Trump's golf caddy as a 16-year-old and is now the only person other than the president himself who has responsibility for the @realDonaldTrump account (Mitt Romney had 22 people checking his tweets when he ran for president in 2012).
When Scavino apologised, he attempted to suggest the star was a sheriff's badge rather than a Star of David: "The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign. It was lifted from an Anti-Hillary Twitter user. The sheriff’s badge, which is available under Microsoft shapes, fit the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it."
Donald Trump's anti-Hillary tweet from 2 July 2016