Updated at 11:41 a.m. | Less than 24 hours after calling for national unity after the racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump shared an image with racial undertones with his 36.6 million Twitter followers.
The president, during an aggressive and defensive morning tweetstorm, retweeted an image playing off Monday’s eclipse showing himself and former President Barack Obama. In it, Trump’s head and torso slowly cover more and more of Obama’s until the country’s first African-American president is no longer visible.
It was posted by the Twitter user @JerryTravone, whose profile picture shows a white man who describes himself as a “Proud Trump supporter and pushback against liberalism.”
— Jerry Travone 🎦 (@JerryTravone) August 24, 2017
Travone’s Twitter page is composed of posts criticizing the Charlottesville counter-protesters, liberals, and even shopping for food. Numerous posts and retweets have racial undertones. But he also has posted a number of anti-Muslim tweets.
99% of terrorists are Muslims that follow Islam . I never seen a christain run down innocent people with a car and then stab them https://t.co/R94Wi7CwQR
— Jerry Travone 🎦 (@JerryTravone) March 23, 2017
I’m not afraid of anyone , but I do know the religion of Islam is not peaceful and any religion that forces its ways on someone is wrong https://t.co/En6FbbcvUX
— Jerry Travone 🎦 (@JerryTravone) April 21, 2017
By retweeting it, the president again stepped on his own message. This time, he did so a day after urging Americans of all races to come together in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was spawned by protests organized by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.
“It is time to heal the wounds that have divided us, and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us,” Trump told an American Legion conference in Reno, Nevada. “We are one people, with one home, and one flag.”
“We are not defined by the color of our skin, the figure on our paycheck, or the party of our politics,” he said.
The Reno unity speech came less than 24 hours after Trump delivered a half-hour rant defending his various statements about the Charlottesville violence and lashing out at the media for its collective coverage.
“I hit them with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, let’s say. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all,” Trump said Tuesday night in Phoenix. “So what are they saying, right? It should have been sooner. He’s a racist.”
But even members of his own political party criticized his initial reaction, in which he did not denounce the white supremacist groups. He did so two days later, but then the very next afternoon again gave cover to those groups, which are part of his political base.
Reaction was swift on Twitter, with many user slamming the president for sharing the image — especially given his post-Charlottesville missteps.
David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, and others poked fun at Trump for apparently forgetting that during an eclipse, the covered body eventually emerges.
If Trump understood how eclipses in fact work, this tweet would not have flattered him so much https://t.co/UIxjawmULS
— David Frum (@davidfrum) August 24, 2017
So OBama is coming back after Trump passes over? Excellent!
— Dan Turner (@TheOneNOnlyDT) August 24, 2017
And others called the president a racist.
Do you even realize how racist this is POTUS!?! Jesus Christ.
— Brooke morris (@morris4311) August 24, 2017
One user summed up his reaction without a word.
— Matthew Mojica (@BoxingSins) August 24, 2017
And Time magazine executive Alex Fitzpatrick pointed out that the idea wasn’t exactly an original one.
A pro-Obama version of the Trump eclipse meme was going around a few days ago: https://t.co/ghOd84PYL6
— Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) August 24, 2017
— Alex Gangitano and Eric Garcia contributed to this report.