On Friday, NBC News reported and tweeted that President Donald Trump had sung the praises of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
NBC News tweeted on Friday: “WATCH: President Trump says ‘Robert E. Lee was a great general’ during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader ‘incredible.’”
The one problem? Trump hadn’t said that. Not only had NBC News taken Trump’s quote out of context, but they also misquoted him: he had, in fact, called Gen. Ulysses S. Grant—the general who won the Civil War for the North—“incredible.”
When speaking at a rally in Ohio, Trump praised Grant—who was from Ohio—saying that Ohio had had given “you a general who was incredible.”
“You know who I’m talking about, right?” Trump asked the crowd, referencing Grant. So Robert E. Lee was a great general. And Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee.”
“One day, it was looking really bad,” Trump continued. “And Lincoln just said, ‘You’ ― hardly knew his name ― and they said, ‘Don’t take him. He’s got a drinking problem.’ And Lincoln said, ‘I don’t care what problem he has, you guys aren’t winning.’ And his name was Grant. General Grant. And he went in and he knocked the hell out of everyone.”
Historians have considered Lee one of the best tactical military leaders of all time, and it’s clear from Trump’s speech that he was praising Lee’s skills as a means of praising Grant—who had defeated Lee.
Trump slammed NBC News for their “dishonest reporting.”
NBC News has totally and purposely changed the point and meaning of my story about General Robert E Lee and General Ulysses Grant. Was actually a shoutout to warrior Grant and the great state in which he was born. As usual, dishonest reporting. Even mainstream media embarrassed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2018
NBC News took two days to release a correction: “CORRECTION: An earlier tweet misidentified the general President Trump described as ‘incredible’ at a rally in Ohio. It was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, not Gen. Robert E. Lee. An attached video clip lacked the full context for Trump’s remark.”