Speaking to the press about his government shutdown on Monday morning, President Donald Trump replied, “Who cares?” after a reporter began asking him about New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling him a racist.
Yahoo News’ White House correspondent Hunter Walker initiated the question, telling Trump, “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has called you a racist.” (Walker was referring to Ocasio-Cortez’s 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper from last week, in which she confirmed to Cooper that, yes, she believed there was “no question” that Trump was a racist.)
“Who did?” Trump asked Walker in response, seemingly unable to keep track of the long list of people who have called him a racist or have said he’s enabled openly-racist racists. “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez,” Walker responded.
Trump then made a gesture appearing to literally brush off Walker’s comment, asking, “Who cares? She’s...” then trailing off with a dissatisfied head shake.
It’s unclear here what Trump is really asking “who cares?” about. Who cares about Ocasio-Cortez? Who cares that she thinks he’s a racist? Who cares that he could be a racist? Regardless, every response is bad if you’re hoping to convince the nation you’re in charge of that you’re not racist, that you don’t participate in racist actions, or that you certainly don’t want people to think you’re racist—especially considering Trump’s entire career as a businessman, public figure, politician, and policymaker.
Trump’s urgency to literally brush Ocasio-Cortez off comes a week after the White House released a statement claiming that the freshman congresswoman harbored “sheer ignorance” regarding Trump’s history with race and racism.
Trump later went on to tell the same reporter that he hadn’t “been following” the news on Iowa Rep. Steve King. King, you may recall, was quoted by the New York Times last week asking when terms such as white supremacist and white nationalist became “offensive,” and then delivered a non-apology for giving the country racist indigestion.
Perhaps if Trump had “been following” King’s spectacular failure, he would’ve been less likely to brush off such a charge of racism. But considering his track record, who’s to say?