MSNBC confuses ex-Trump Navy secretary and infamous white supremacist

Kadia Tubman
Reporter

There were two Richard Spencers who made headlines in November.

One was a now former Navy secretary who was fired for his resistance against President Trump’s intervention in a war crimes case, and the other was a white supremacist who was once again caught ranting about Jewish and black people.  

The two Spencers were confused in a graphic on MSNBC Sunday morning during a segment about former Navy Secretary Spencer, who shortly after his ousting last week penned a Washington Post op-ed detailing Trump’s interference in the case of Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a member of the elite Navy SEALs who was accused of war crimes. An image of white nationalist Spencer was accidentally shown in place of the former military leader. 

Photo: Josh Billlinson via Twitter

Host Joy-Ann Reid issued “a very big correction” on air for the mistake, saying, “Earlier in the segment, as we were talking about former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, we mistakenly showed the wrong image of white supremacist Richard Spencer. Very deeply sorry for that mistake.” 

White nationalist Spencer, 41, responded to the mistake, saying on Twitter, “On some deep, unconscious level, America wants me to be in charge of the U.S. Navy.”

Spencer had organized the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., which resulted in the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer. The leaked audio rant reportedly came from a meeting a day after the deadly “alt-right” event. 

It was around that time that the other Spencer, now 65, began his two-year tenure as Navy secretary before being fired by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Trump defended the ouster, saying last Wednesday, “I have to protect my warfighters.”

Trump sought to ensure that Gallagher, facing a demotion, would keep his trident pin, which signifies SEAL status, despite the Navy secretary’s support for a review board that would assess Gallagher’s wartime actions. The Pentagon said Spencer’s effort prompted Esper to ask for his resignation because of a “lack of candor.” 

As Spencer detailed in his op-ed, he on separate occasions throughout the case “pushed back” against the president’s involvement, which he said was evident from the start. 

“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” Spencer wrote. “It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer; white nationalist Richard Spencer (Photos: Alex Edelman/Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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