News & Politics

No, Trump Didn't Praise The Use of Chokeholds; Here's What He Actually Said

President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable discussion with African-American supporters in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Kyle Griffin, a producer for MSNBC with a reputation for distorting Trump’s words, was at it again on Friday when he deliberately took a Trump quote from his interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner out of context to make it look like he was approving the use of police chokeholds.

“Trump on Fox: ‘I think the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect.'” Griffin tweeted, giving the impression that Trump was actually praising or universally condoning chokeholds.

The out-of-context quote was similarly used in a headline at Vox.

But what did Trump actually say? Here’s a transcript of the discussion on chokeholds from the interview.

HARRIS FAULKNER: Say no to chokeholds?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t like chokeholds. Now, I will say this: As somebody that, you know, you grow up and you and you wrestle and you fight and you this, or you see what happens, sometimes if you’re alone and you’re fighting someone who’s tough, and you get someone in a chokehold, what are you gonna do? Say, oh… and it’s a real bad person, and you know that, and they do exist. I mean, we have some real bad people… and you get somebody in a chokehold and what are you gonna do now? Let go and say, oh, let’s start over again, I’m not allowed to have you in a chokehold? It’s a tough situation. Now, if you have two people…

FAULKNER: Or four.

TRUMP: Yeah, in the case that we’re talking about you had four people.

FAULKNER: Yeah.

TRUMP: And two of them, I guess, just pretty much started. It’s a very, very tricky situation [crosstalk] so the chokehold thing, is good, because… to talk about, because, off the cuff it would sound like, oh, absolutely, but if you’re thinking about it, then you realize, maybe there is a bad fight, and the officer gets somebody in a position that’s a very tough position…

FAULKNER: So, you’re saying that there’s a sliding scale depending on what the circumstances are…

TRUMP: I think you have to probably say…

FAULKNER: Do you wanna be in that conversation? Are you in that conversation?

TRUMP: I really am. And I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent and so perfect, and then you realize, if it’s a 1-on-1, now if it’s 2-on-1, that’s a bit of a different story, depending. Depending on the toughness and strength. You know, we’re talking about toughness and strength. There’s a physical thing here also. But if a police officer is in a bad scuffle and if he’s got somebody in a chokehold…

FAULKNER: Then it’s a 1-on-1 fight for their life…

TRUMP: Yeah. And that does happen. [crosstalk] So you have to be careful. With that being said, it would be, I think, a very good thing that generally speaking it should be ended.

Here’s the video:

Was Trump praising chokeholds or defending the practice? Nope. He quite clearly said he thinks they shouldn’t be used.

And yet, this wasn’t just one anti-Trumper in the media. Others were quick to use the out-of-context quote, too:

Why does the media think they can get away with this? It’s easy. Time and time again they do it and get away it.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis