Reporters and colleagues on Wednesday defended the record of White House correspondent Kristen Welker, who is set to moderate Thursday’s presidential debate after President Donald Trump spent the past several days on a rampage against the NBC News journalist.
ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl appeared to set off a wave of support and praise for the longtime NBC News journalist in an effort to set the record straight amid an avalanche of false claims attempting to smear the moderator.
“For the record: Kristen Wekler is an first-rate journalist and an honorable person. And her account has not been deleted — it’s right here: @kwelkernbc,” Karl tweeted early Tuesday.
The comments come after Trump on Monday suggested that Welker had deleted her Twitter account in an apparent effort to shield evidence of bias — an attack he had already leveraged against previous moderators C-SPAN’s Steve Scully for the second presidential debate, which got cancelled, and Fox News’ Chris Wallace after a chaotic first debate unraveled.
“She’s a radical Democrat. She deleted her entire account,” Trump falsely told supporters at a campaign rally in Arizona. “She’s no good,” he added.
It’s not the first time Trump has taken aim at journalists broadly — and seized on Black women journalists in particular. Over the course of just three days in November 2018, Trump attacked three Black women journalists back to back including CNN’s Abby Phillip and April Ryan as well as PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor just for asking him questions.
“You’ve got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect,” Trump said of Ryan at the time, in what has become a common narrative from the President with regard to how Black women respond to White men in positions of political power. (He has made similar comments about Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris for being “disrespectful.”)
Trump at the time described Ryan as “a loser,” called one of Phillip’s questions “stupid,” and suggested a question asked by Alcindor was “racist.”
On Tuesday, the President sang a similar tune intensifying his attack against the next debate’s moderator, Welker, who is also Black, calling Welker “terrible” and telling Fox & Friends hosts that she “cannot be neutral at all.”
But journalists rang the alarm Wednesday on Trump’s smear campaign:
— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) October 20, 2020
I’ve worked alongside @kwelkernbc during two admins now. She’s the consummate professional.. tough but fair. Looking forward to watching her moderate Thursday’s debate.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 20, 2020
She’s a smart journalist who asks tough, fair questions of people in power, & a kind, generous person.
Trump should apologize for calling her “terrible,” but won’t. https://t.co/7r0UzSxNuy
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) October 18, 2020
I don't even know why we're tweeting how much we respect @kwelkernbc, but add me to the ranks of the Kristen corps. Privileged to work with her, admired her work when I didn't. https://t.co/Ztrr1kzVqK
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) October 20, 2020
— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVega) October 20, 2020
— Susan Page (@SusanPage) October 20, 2020