‘Are you kidding me?’: Fury over Trump's latest photo
A photo of Donald Trump posing with a selection of food products in the Oval Office is causing consternation in the United States.
Yes, that's a real sentence. Bear with us as we give you the context.
A man named Bob Unanue, who is the CEO of Goya Foods, attended a White House event last week. During that event, he praised Mr Trump.
"We are all truly blessed ... to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder," Mr Unanue said.
"That's what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so we have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our President, and we pray for our country, that we will continue to prosper and to grow."
That's pretty much all he said. It was a fairly innocuous example of the sort of sucking up business leaders often engage in during visits to the White House.
Nevertheless, it sparked a push online to boycott Goya Foods products, under the hashtag #Goyaway.
Goya Foods is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US. Some of its customers - along with a handful of Democratic Party politicians - were upset that its CEO praised a man they believe is racist against Hispanic people.
.@GoyaFoods has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 9, 2020
Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway https://t.co/lZDQlK6TcU
That was several days ago. You might have expected the controversy to fizzle out by now. Alas, no.
On Friday, Mr Unanue spoke to the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, and refused to back down. He labelled the boycott effort a "suppression of speech".
He said no one had expressed any problem with him attending an event hosted by former first lady Michelle Obama in 2012.
"You're allowed to talk good or talk praise to one president, but you're not - when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and educational prosperity, and you make a positive comment, all of a sudden that's not acceptable," said Mr Unanue.
"If you're called by the President of the United States, you're going to say, 'No I'm sorry, I'm busy, no thank you?' I didn't say that to the Obamas and I didn't say that to President Trump."
Meanwhile, Mr Trump himself tweeted a (brief) message of support for Goya Foods.
Yesterday the President's daughter, Ivanka Trump, decided to get involved.
She posted an image of herself posing with a can of Goya-branded black beans, and captioned it with the company's slogan.
Once again, the internet wasn't happy. Several people pointed out that US government ethics rules prohibit using one's public office to promote or endorse products. Ms Trump, as a senior White House adviser, holds such an office.
The thing is, it is up to Mr Trump to enforce those rules. So it's a safe bet they won't be applied in this case.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
The White House issued a statement yesterday brushing off the controversy.
"Only the media and the cancel culture movement would criticise Ivanka for showing her personal support for a company that has been unfairly mocked, boycotted and ridiculed for supporting this administration - one that has consistently fought for and delivered for the Hispanic community," a spokesperson said.
With all of that context, we now return to that aforementioned photo of Mr Trump in the Oval Office, seated at the Resolute Desk, and posing with a bunch of Goya Foods products.
The image, posted on Instagram today, followed a tweet in which he claimed Goya was "doing great" and "people are buying like crazy".
.@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT. The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
Mr Trump's critics have suggested he has more important things to focus on at the moment than the fate of a private company that sells beans.
For example, there is the pandemic that has already infected more than 3.6 million Americans and killed 140,000 of them.
Reacting to the photo on his TV show today, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was near-incandescent with anger.
"You tell me how a President in the middle of a pandemic has got time for this bulls**t. Are you kidding me? Hawking products - Goya, I don't care who it is. Resolute Desk. This is what he's resolute about!?" Cuomo said.
"Pandemic priorities? His daughter Ivanka, top White House adviser. Are you kidding me?
"Marketing for a brand following calls for boycotts after Goya's CEO heaped praise on Trump last week. On your dime. In the middle of a pandemic. They're selling beans? Are you kidding me, seriously?
"This is not left and right, this is reasonable, my brothers and sisters. The guy's sitting on the Resolute Desk with a bunch of Goya products. Proof positive of why we need many Faucis. But we only have one."
"On your dime, in the middle of a pandemic, they're selling beans!" says @ChrisCuomo, outraged over Pres. Trump's "magic beans" photo.— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) July 16, 2020
"Are you kidding me? Seriously. Seriously... what good reason?" pic.twitter.com/zih858VuBB
That mention of Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of Mr Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, was a reference to the White House's bizarre attempts to undermine his advice this week.
"The idea of (Mr Trump) messing with Fauci when he's selling magic beans is crazy. What reason, what good reason? That's the question," said Cuomo.
"Shift the blame, put the stink on Fauci, sell your beans.
"Lie, deny and defy. The President keeps telling you the problem is testing.
"Wake up! This is what's making us sick. I do not want to see you people go through what I did. It never ends. It never ends this thing, even a mild case."
Cuomo himself was infected with the coronavirus a few months ago, and while his life was never under threat, the disease did hit him hard.
"Hold him to account. Make him do his damn job," he implored his viewers.
Originally published as 'Are you kidding me?': Fury over photo
After the CEO of Goya Foods praised @realDonaldTrump I will no longer be buying their products as they betray their once loyal Latino consumers. Join me in taking a stand as a consumer and boycotting Goya. #Goyaway pic.twitter.com/iYEAH0S01Y— Luis V. Gutierrez (@RepGutierrez) July 10, 2020
Free speech works both ways. @GoyaFoods CEO is free to support a bigoted president who said an American judge can’t do his job because he’s “Mexican”, who treats Puerto Rico like trash, and who tries to deport Dreamers.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 10, 2020
We’re free to leave his products on the shelves. #Goyaway https://t.co/4qRQ0u4R7V
Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling “how to make your own Adobo” https://t.co/YOScAcyAnC— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 10, 2020
Under these circumstances, if you're a top presidential adviser in the president's inner circle, there's a strong appearance that you're endorsing a product in your official capacity. It would be disingenuous for anyone to argue that you weren't making an official endorsement. /5— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 15, 2020