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Joe Biden invokes 'very fine people' hoax from Charlottesville riots in debate with President Trump


Moderator Chris Wallace didn't bother correcting Biden's false statement

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @bennyjohnson

You knew he was going there — and sure enough, he did.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — with most of mainstream media squarely behind him — during Tuesday's debate with President Donald Trump invoked the tired, long-ago debunked hoax that Trump referred to neo-Nazis and white nationalists at the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, as "very fine people."

What was said?

"Close your eyes, remember what those people looked like coming out of the fields, carrying torches, their veins bulging ... just spewing anti-Semitic bile and accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan — a young woman got killed — and they asked the president what he thought, he said there were very fine people on both sides," Biden remarked. "No president has said anything like that."

Trump appeared to urge Biden to "finish the statement, finish the statement" — presumably in reference to his complete remarks to the media when he specifically condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists — but moderator Chris Wallace, who was demonstrably contentious with Trump all night, moved things along and didn't correct Biden.

But we will. Again.

Here's the in-context exchange between Trump and the media after Charlottesville as reported by Politifact (emphasis added):

Trump: "Excuse me, excuse me. They didn't put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name."

Reporter: "George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same."

Trump: "George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?"

Reporter: "I do love Thomas Jefferson."

Trump: "Okay, good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So you know what, it's fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture. And you had people — and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group."

Here's the clip from the debate and some reactions to it:

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