During a news segment in Baltimore on Monday responding to President Donald Trump’s tweets characterizing the city as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” a rat was seen running through a local reporter’s live shot.
In a two-day Twitter tirade this weekend, the president reacted to Rep. Elijah Cummings, a black Maryland Democrat who represents much of the city, complaining at a July 18 congressional hearing about conditions at the U.S. southern border.
Trump alleged that conditions in Baltimore are “FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” while also calling the city a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) July 29, 2019
Fox 45 reporter Maxine Streicher spoke to residents of Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, which is part of Cummings’ Congressional District 7, and asked them what they thought about Trump’s comments.
Streicher said residents were “deeply offended” by the president’s remarks.
“There’s truth that there’s a bunch of problems here in the city,” said Darriel Harris, one of the residents interviewed by Fox 45. “There’s lots of problems in this district. There’s things that need to be addressed.”
“We have rats. We have trouble,” Vanita Shannon told Fox 45. “We’re not the only troubled city. There’s other cities out here that have the same type of trouble we have.”
Toward the end of the segment, as the camera focused on refuse near an abandoned building, a rat could be seen scurrying away.
Baltimore rats and the latest presidential outrage
Liberals – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, MSNBC host Joy Reid and the Maryland chapter of the NAACP rushed to condemn the president as racist for his remarks.
.@RepCummings is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague. We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership. #ElijahCummingsIsAPatriot https://t.co/2LG8AuQrHh
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 27, 2019
Meanwhile, current Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young reacted to Trump by issuing a statement on Saturday in which he called Baltimore a “vibrant American City.”
But the president’s supporters defended him against accusations of bigotry by noting that he’s merely echoed the sentiments made by many others, including Democrats, liberals and even the city’s former mayor.
In a 2018 video, then-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh echoed many of Trump’s sentiments. A Fox 45 segment broadcast last September shows Pugh, a black Democrat, touring an East Baltimore neighborhood with other city leaders.
“What the hell. We should just take all this shit down,” she can be heard saying of the surrounding slums. “Whoa, you can smell the rats. Whew, Jesus. Oh, my God, you can smell the dead animals.”
In May, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story headlined “The Tragedy of Baltimore,” which details how in the wake of the 2015 riots, the city descended into “nothing less than a failure of order and governance the likes of which few American cities have seen in years.”