Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker revealed Monday that their paper had no intention of writing about President Donald Trump's trouble descending a ramp and drinking a glass of water with one hand. It was only after Trump freaked out on Twitter and posted about it that the Post wrote it up.
Speaking on MSNBC's "Deadline White House," host Nicolle Wallace noted that a time of such political upheaval the president was far more concerned about being mocked online than about police killing an unarmed Black man in Atlanta the night before.
"Did you write the story about his shaky walk down that ramp at West Point -- in part because he lied about the circumstances in which he seemingly struggled down it?" Wallace asked. "Until he tweeted, 'it was very slippery' on a day in New York with no rain or wetness or, you know, mist or fog in the air, I'm not sure it was a story, but there he was. The video's up now, struggling, he takes one step with his left foot and the right foot comes and meets the left foot, and seems to walk with great difficulty. But until he tweeted about it, I'm not sure it would have warranted a story in The New York Times and the Washington Post print editions today."
Rucker explained that he traveled with the president over the weekend to West Point for the commencement ceremony, but that it wasn't until that night Trump tweeted an explanation about it.
"It wasn't until the next day when overnight, the president tweeted an explanation for why he was walking so unsteadily down that ramp that we decided to write a new story simply about his explanation and about the way he handled that moment and what that video footage showed and didn't show, notably, the weather there was sunny, warm, the grass was totally dry," said Rucker. "So, I'm not sure what he meant by 'slippery on the ramp.' We all saw the footage, he did run for the final ten feet. But nonetheless, he was so bothered, I think, by the criticism on Twitter of that video, especially by the Republican operatives like George Conway and others with the Lincoln Project, who have really gotten under the president's skin, that he took it upon himself to offer that explanation, which was not entirely consistent with the facts and the reality that we all saw with our own eyes. So, that's what became the news story a day later."
Wallace explained that it matters because the president was rushed to Walter Reed hospital last year with no explanation other than "he's getting a jumpstart on his physical," which it then took him six months to finish. She noted that in the White House there are doctors and nurses everywhere and that the president has access to whatever care he could possibly need that would require a hospital visit.
Rucker agreed, noting that it's Trump that has made "health" and mental fitness an issue in the campaign. He attacked Hillary Clinton in 2016, with supporters claiming that she would be dead within the first six months of taking office. Clinton is still alive. Trump is now trying the same tactic with former Vice President Joe Biden, who was an athlete in school and continues to bike, hike and other physical activities.
See the full discussion below: