Fox News's Charles Krauthammer and Laura Ingraham agreed that President Donald Trump's press conference did not go well, but sharply diverged on its moral significance.
Ingraham said the press conference was evidence of Trump getting sidetracked. She said that he is bothered by people conflating his supporters with white nationalists, but needs to be calmer about it.
"People want to see a calm president in the storm," Ingraham said. "Today, I think he made some points that were factually right — there was violence on both sides in that event on Saturday, anyone who watched the video could see it. But he's not there to win every point, he's there to calmly guide the nation."
She said that Trump does well when he focuses on economic empowerment, streamlining regulations, and being optimistic.
"When he does that, I think it's really positive," Ingraham said about his agenda. "Today he got caught in the pundit trap. He became a pundit, and what I think people want is Trump the president. When he does that he's really powerful."
Krauthammer found this argument insufficient.
"To critique what he did today on the grounds that it distracts from the agenda or was a tactical mistake, I believe is a cop-out," Krauthammer said. "What Trump did today was a moral disgrace."
"What he did is he reverted back to where he was on Saturday, and made it very clear that what he read on Monday two days later was a hostage tape," he said. "Clearly reading off a prompter, saying these denunciations by name of the KKK, et cetera. That wasn't Trump speaking that was the aides speaking."
Krauthammer went on to say that American presidents for decades have admitted that slavery is the country's original sin.
"What Trump is missing here is the uniqueness of white supremacy, KKK, Nazism — yes there were bad guys on both sides, that's not the point," he said. "The riot began over a Nazi riot, a Nazi rally, and the only killing here occurred by one of the pro-Nazi, pro-KKK people."
Ingraham read Trump's prior remarks calling out racism, and critiqued Krauthammer's "moral judgment" of Trump. She said that getting caught in the trap of attacking Trump was what the media wanted, and she brought the topic back to Trump's economic agenda.
"The point is we are not discussing jobs here, we are not discussing an agenda here, we are discussing the unique role of the president in speaking for the moral conscience of a country," Krauthammer said.
Ingraham said that the discussion really has nothing to do with statues but is about power.
"It's about power and control," Ingraham said. "People drive by these statues every day. Most people don't even know what's on these statues. But now it's become a symbol."
She said that Trump's condemnation of white supremacy has been sufficient but that his critics are pouncing on missteps.
"He's called it all out, but it will never be enough for the people who despise him and his agenda," Ingraham said. "And there are people on the right and people on the left who do not want him to succeed, no matter what."
Krauthammer replied that Trump's statement today should carry more weight than Ingraham was giving it.
"You said you had no idea why he didn't say it on Saturday," Krauthammer said. "I'll tell you why he didn't say it on Saturday, which he made plain today: because that's not what's in his heart."
"You can read a heart," Ingraham interjected. "You really are a Ph.D."
Ingraham has a law degree from University of Virginia Law School, while Krauthammer has a medical degree from Harvard Medical School.
"What he said yesterday was what he was reading off a prompter," Krauthammer said. "He was not asked to do the press conference, his staff was shocked that he went into this. The reason he did it: he has a point to make and he made it very plain to the country that what he believes and what he feels is what he said on Saturday and not what he read two days later."