President Donald Trump took a swipe at Bubba Wallace and at NASCAR on Monday morning, following the highly publicized investigation into what looked like a noose hanging in Wallace's garage. Since it turned out that the noose was not left with malicious intent, Trump seems to have joined the throngs calling this a "hoax." He suggested that Wallace apologize to the rest of NASCAR.
Trump tagged Wallace directly in his tweet on Monday morning, asking whether he had apologized "to all of those great NASCAR drivers [and] officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, [and] were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?" The tweet made the presumption that Wallace had intentionally left the noose in his garage as part of some kind of publicity trick, which is not supported by the FBI investigation. Trump apparently believed that this "hoax" was engineered to have the Confederate flag banned by NASCAR. "That [and] Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!" the president concluded.
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
So far, Wallace has not responded directly to Trump's tweet, but other NASCAR stars have. Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, posted a reply to the president. "We don't need an apology," he wrote. "We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support."
Critics were quick to point out where racism was inherent in the president's tweet, while many pundits also questioned why he should be weighing in on NASCAR right now at all. With the coronavirus pandemic worsening and other issues plaguing the U.S., some suggested that this was a distraction tactic meant to change the conversation.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to these criticisms a few hours later during an interview on Fox News. She said: "The president's merely pointing out that we've got to let facts come out before we jump to judgment."
Wallace is the only Black person who drives full time in NASCAR, yet every single other driver showed immense solidarity with him during this scandal last month. The rope fashioned into a noose was discovered hanging from the door in Wallace's Talladega Superspeedway garage on June 21, and an FBI investigation followed. It found that the knot was old, and was simply a distinct pull cord for the door. It had been there since October.
Wallace said that he was grateful that the noose was not tied with malice, according to a report by ESPN, but he also said that he did not think the investigation was an over-reaction. He and other drivers have said that the removal of the Confederate flag from NASCAR was already overdue.