President Donald Trump was heavily criticized online and by some media outlets for a picture he and first lady Melania Trump took with the infant son of two parents who died in the El Paso, Texas, massacre, but the child's uncle refuted those criticisms, according to the Washington Post.
The harsh criticism, which included a CNN analyst calling it "not a normal human response," prompted Tito Anchondo, who lost his brother and sister-in-law in the attack, to defend the president.
It was not that President Trump had used the baby as an easy photo opportunity following the tragedy, Anchondo said. Rather, he wanted to meet the president and first lady and chose to take the baby to the hospital for that meeting.
"He was just there as a human being, consoling us and giving us condolences," Anchondo said of Trump.
Also, he said he did not feel he and his family were being used to politicize the tragedy. In fact, Anchondo told the Post, his family is Republican and his late brother was a Trump supporter. Anchondo said the conversation was comforting, declining to divulge the details of the discussion.
"I want to see if he's genuine and if my political views are right or wrong, and see if he feels maybe some kind of remorse for statements he's made," Anchondo said to NPR before the meeting. "I just want to have a human-to-human talk with him and see how he feels."
The photograph, particularly the thumbs-up the president was giving in the photo, angered some observers, including a CNN panel that brushed past the context of the uncle's desire for the meeting to criticize the optics and "tone-deafness" of the photo.
"What you have is a picture of a president who has an empathy deficit," one panelist said. "He keeps acting like a malfunctioning automaton with these opportunities. ... it's not too much to expect that the president would act like a normal human being."
CNN analyst on Trump's pose in photo: Not a normal human response youtu.be