Rowling apologises over Trump tweets

Author J.K. Rowling had wrongly accused United States President Donald Trump of ignoring Montgomery Weer (both above), a three-year-old boy with spina bifida, at the White House last month.
Author J.K. Rowling had wrongly accused United States President Donald Trump of ignoring Montgomery Weer (both above), a three-year-old boy with spina bifida, at the White House last month.PHOTO: NYTIMES
Author J.K. Rowling had wrongly accused United States President Donald Trump of ignoring Montgomery Weer (both above), a three-year-old boy with spina bifida, at the White House last month.

LONDON • Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling said sorry, but not to United States President Donald Trump, even though she had wrongly accused him of atrocious behaviour.

She had stoked a barrage of online criticism directed at him after she posted that he had ignored Montgomery Weer, a three-year-old boy with spina bifida who uses a wheelchair, at an event last month at the White House.

"How stunning, and how horrible, that Trump cannot bring himself to shake the hand of a small boy who only wanted to touch the President," the author wrote.

"My mother used a wheelchair. I witnessed people uncomfortable around her disability, but if they had a shred of decency, they got over it," she wrote on Twitter, in comments that have since been deleted.

"So, yes, that clip of Trump looking deliberately over a disabled child's head, ignoring his outstretched hand, has touched me on the raw."

The problem is, it appears she did not check her facts. She made a false assumption based on widely circulated but incomplete video footage, reported The New York Times.

The boy's mother wrote on Facebook that Rowling had misinterpreted the situation. "If someone can please get a message to J.K. Rowling: Trump didn't snub my son & Monty wasn't even trying to shake his hand," she said.

The raw video footage showed that Mr Trump had crouched down to shake the boy's hand. He appeared to have gently touched the child's left elbow as the boy lifted his clenched left hand.

Rowling apologised to the boy and his family, but not to Mr Trump. "Multiple sources have informed me that that was not a full or accurate representation of their interaction," she tweeted.

"I very clearly projected my own sensitivities around the issue of disabled people being overlooked or ignored onto the images I saw, and if that caused any distress to that boy or his family, I apologise unreservedly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Rowling apologises over Trump tweets'. Print Edition | Subscribe