CNN’s Brian Stelter took issue with President Trump’s latest tweet about the UCLA basketball players — Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill, who were arrested in China for shoplifting and, thanks to Trump, were recently released.
When the players returned home, they thanked Trump for his assistance in their return.
“To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. Thank you for helping us out,” Riley said, speaking for the group.
That message was apparently lost on LiAngelo Ball’s father LaVar.
“What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball told ESPN.
That resulted in this tweet from Trump:
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Stelter then injected race into the issue, noting that the president had promised to be more restrained on Twitter last year when asked about the situation by his colleague Fredericka Whitfield.
“If this is restrained, I can’t imagine what it would look like if he were to be unrestrained. I mean, think about this. He’s just recently let the NFL kneeling controversy start to subside, start to fade away, and now here he is calling out these players and the families again. I think it’s immature at best, Fred, but it’s really race-baiting at worst. That’s gonna be debated, that’s gonna be argued about, but I want to put that on the table: it sure looks like race-baiting to a lot of people.”
Stelter failed to point out how tweets that didn’t mention race qualify as race-baiting and wasn’t pressed on the issue by Whitfield.