Parkland students grade Trump on post-shooting empathy
After last week's murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Trump met briefly with some hospitalized survivors of the shooting, then on Wednesday he hosted more survivors and their families for a "listening session." At the White House event, Trump had a card with five bullet points, reportedly written for him by communications director Hope Hicks, the last of which read "I hear you."
The note card has earned Trump punch lines about feigned empathy, but some of the participants found it off-putting. "Everything I said was directly from the heart, and he had to write down 'I hear you,'" student Sam Zeif tells The New York Times. He was slightly more cutting on MSNBC: "I know I was heard because I saw it on Trump's little card — 'I hear you' — but I don't think I was felt by him."
Samantha Fuentes, shot in both legs during the Parkland attack and left with shrapnel behind her right eye, also graded Trump low on the empathy scale. When Trump called her hospital room, she told the Times, "he said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, 'I'm a big fan of yours too.' I'm pretty sure he made that up. ... Talking to the president, I've never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn't make me feel better in the slightest."
Other people had more positive reactions. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was killed in the attack, said that Trump "showed us nothing but love" in a private meeting before the listening session. "The guy really cared, you know? He flew us in, he had a bus waiting for us, he made time for us," he said, going so far as to keep a photo of Meadow and sign his son's MAGA hat.