ABC News political director Rick Klein was forced to walk back a call Thursday for the “cleansing” of the Trump “movement” after he faced a significant backlash.
“Trump will be an ex-president in 13 days. The fact is that getting rid of Trump is the easy part. Cleansing the movement he commands is going to be something else,” the journalist wrote in the Thursday tweet, a screenshot of which was shared by the Examiner.
Similarly inflammatory language was seen in Klein’s column: “Cleansing the movement [Trump] commands, or getting rid of what he represents to so many Americans, is going to be something else.”
A swift backlash
It didn’t take long for Klein to face pushback for his remarks. In a piece of his own, Breitbart’s John Nolte accused the ABC journalist of “deliberately using the provocative word ‘cleansing’ in an obvious effort to make things worse.”
Nolte also charged that Klein “wield[ed] Stalinist eliminationist rhetoric as a means to increase tensions and divisions even more.”
Former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka expressed similar concerns. “Didn’t fascists ‘cleanse’ their enemies?” he asked in a tweet. “That’s what [Klein] is calling for… Why is [ABC] good with that?”
Didn’t fascists “cleanse” their enemies?
That’s what @rickklein is calling for.
Guess that makes him a fascist too.
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) January 7, 2021
According to the Washington Examiner, ABC subsequently stealth-edited the article, coauthored by MaryAlice Parks, to refer to “cleaning up” the movement, rather than “cleansing.” However, Klein did not apologize or retract his original statement, other than deleting his tweet.
“Everything this administration stands for”
While Klein and others on the left including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have placed the blame for the Capitol unrest squarely on Trump’s shoulders, the president has condemned the violence and in a statement Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the rioters’ actions “appalling, reprehensible, and antithetical to the American way.”
“What we saw yesterday was a group of violent rioters undermining the legitimate First Amendment rights of the many thousands who came to peacefully have their voices heard in our nation’s capital,” she charged.
“Those who violently besieged our Capitol are the opposite of everything this administration stands for,” McEnany added.