President Trump Faces Backlash For Saying Aretha Franklin 'Worked For Me'
While condolences have been pouring in from around the globe over the past 24 hours following Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin's death, one high-profile tribute has struck some fans of the singer as off-key.
In a tweet on Thursday morning (Aug. 16) President Donald Trump wrote, "The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!"
It was what Trump said later in the day to the White House press pool, though, that has drawn widespread criticism. "I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well," Trump said, according to reports. "She worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific -- Aretha Franklin -- on her passing. She brought joy to million of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come."
While Trump's praise for the "Natural Woman" singer was effusive and he offered sympathy to Franklin's family, it was that one phrase, "she worked for me," that raised a number of eyebrows.
Donald Trump literally cannot do one thing right. Not one. pic.twitter.com/cSVgn3l7qb— Joe Berkowitz (@JoeBerkowitz) August 16, 2018
As noted by the Press of Atlantic City, it's possible Trump was referring to Franklin performing at his then-named Trump Castle casino in Atlantic City in 1988 and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in the 1990s. The singer also reportedly performed at a private event hosted by Trump to celebrate the opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York in 1997.
Even so, that loaded phrase, "worked for me," elicited a number of angry comments about the president's seemingly tone-deaf response to the beloved singer's death.
Aretha Franklin "worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific."— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) August 16, 2018
Are we sure Trump knows who Aretha Franklin was or is this one of those Frederick Douglass situations?#ThursdayThoughtspic.twitter.com/SWh5W8kSR0
Trump just claimed that Aretha Franklin “worked for him on numerous occasions.”— Ryan Knight -- (@ProudResister) August 16, 2018
So let’s get something straight. The #QueenOfSoul did not work for anyone. What she did do is generously share her voice and her soul with the world. And we are all better off because of it. #RESPECT
Donald Trump on Aretha Franklin: “She worked for me on numerous occasions.”— Ryan Knight -- (@ProudResister) August 17, 2018
That’s called DISRESPECT.
Barack Obama on Aretha Franklin: “She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human.”
That’s called RESPECT.
OBAMAS ON ARETHA: "Graced with a glimpse of the divine."— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) August 16, 2018
CLINTONS ON ARETHA: "One of America's greatest national treasures."
TRUMP ON ARETHA: "She worked for me."#ArethaFranklin
It would be no surprise if Aretha Franklin performed at a Trump event years ago. But for him to say she "worked for" him, phrased that way, carries an abundantly clear connotation. It speaks to how he saw her and is devoid of the respect she deserves for her impact.— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) August 16, 2018
As Trump coldly remembered Aretha Franklin as a former employee, Barack & Michelle Obama offered dignity, grace, unity, & beauty in this moment of national sadness with a beautiful statement reflecting on the impact the Queen of Soul had on our world.https://t.co/Z0wHtUsV6r— Wes Jordan✌-- (@wesley_jordan) August 17, 2018
When Trump says Aretha "worked for him many times," he says with the arrogance of a slave owner...— Jeffrey St. Clair (@JSCCounterPunch) August 16, 2018
Earlier today you said Aretha Franklin "worked" for you. She may have performed at one of your hotels or casinos, Mr. Trump, but do not be confused; The Queen of Soul NEVER EVER WORKED for you. But you, Mr. Trump, you work for us and, sooner or later, you will be fired.— Sharon Gelman - Resist! (@sharongelman) August 16, 2018
Donald Trump offered his “warmest best wishes and sympathies” to the family of Aretha Franklin, per WH pool. Is “best wishes” not an extremely weird thing to say to the family of someone who just died? pic.twitter.com/p9tLCLEZ1q— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) August 16, 2018