Media Takes Truth for a Spin

Not everything Donald Trump says is an outrage — but that doesn’t stop the media from treating it like one. Yesterday, the GOP nominee was back in the political hot seat after comments about the spike in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases at a Virginia town hall for retired military warriors. During the Q&A portion of the event, which FRC’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) and I moderated, Marine Staff Sergeant Chad Robichaux, president of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, asked Trump if he would support faith-based programs for troops suffering from PTSD.

What followed has become a case study in liberal media distortion. The Republican candidate replied that, “Yes I would. Look we need that so badly and when you talk about the mental health problems — when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it,” he said. It was a simple statement that’s was launched into a front-page controversy, courtesy of a liberal media spin machine — despite the fact that no on in the room who heard the remarks thought anything about his statement other than that he would support a holistic approach to treating PTSD.

In a matter of hours, social media lit up with tweets about Trump’s insensitivity for suggesting that the victims of PTSD were somehow weak. Now obviously, that isn’t what the GOP nominee said — or meant. And no one in that room took it that way, including Sergeant Robichaux, who asked the question in the first place! That didn’t stop the Left from taking the comments completely out of context, in order (as Lt. General. Michael Flynn said) “to deceive voters and veterans.” Still, critics exploded, tagging Trump as offensive and brash. To Robichaux, the firestorm has been mind-boggling.

“I think it’s sickening that anyone would twist Mr. Trump’s comments to me in order to pursue a political agenda,” he said. “I took his comments to be thoughtful and understanding of the struggles many veterans have, and I believe he is committed to helping them. The nature of my question focused on a broken system that’s failing so many of our veterans and, as president, would Mr. Trump take a more holistic approach to health care for veterans. I interpreted his answer to affirm that the system is broken and he would take the necessary steps to address it. After eight combat tours in Afghanistan I came home and was diagnosed with PTSD, and I struggled with it. Since my own recovery I’ve been privileged to help 1100 veterans who have graduated from our program; none of whom have committed suicide since graduating. It’s a very important issue to me, which is why I was thankful for the opportunity to ask Mr. Trump about it directly.”

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Even the Obama administration didn’t waste an opportunity to pile on, as Vice President Joe Biden took over where the press left off. “The number of people coming home with unseen injuries — post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury — is significantly higher. What’s this say about a guy who doesn’t have any notion of that?” More importantly, what does it say about President Obama that his team will bash Trump over nothing while his own administration serially abandons America’s veterans? It takes some nerve to condemn the GOP nominee for a media manufactured mischaracterization of his comments while Obama’s VA is responsible for creating the worst eight years of care for those who have served our country.

And when the government finally does get around to treating our troops, it refuses to deal with the deeper issues of things like PTSD. The VA medicates our brave men and women, but ignores their spiritual and emotional well-being. Then, when a chaplain does use Scripture to try to deal with the problems, he gets reprimanded. Programs like Chad’s (which you can hear more about in our interview on yesterday’s “Washington Watch”) take the whole person into account, which is why they’re so successful. Donald Trump gets that. And in the follow-up conversation, it was obvious that he not only understands the mental trauma in the military but is committed to dealing with it.

This is a completely contrived controversy meant to distract from the substantive conversations and progress that came out of Monday’s meeting. That’s certainly General Boykin’s take, which he shared this morning on Fox Business (video below.) Also, check out our Facebook Live conversation on my Facebook page.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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