The second-biggest mistake the Trump campaign made over the course of the Fourth of July weekend was to spend the entire three-day period re-litigating a tweet Donald Trump sent out Saturday morning: the now-infamous "Star of David" tweet that referred to Hillary Clinton as the "most corrupt" candidate in history, showing her on a bed of money next to a six-pointed star. The biggest mistake would be the tweet itself.
On Monday night, refusing to let the exhausted dog simply sleep, the Trump campaign issued a statement on Facebook from the campaign's social media director, Dan Scavino. It read:
The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear.
The sheriff’s badge – which is available under Microsoft’s “shapes” - fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it.
As the Social Media Director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image.
The "sheriff's badge" excuse is a common one, and, coming from the campaign's director of social media, an odd one. It suggests that Scavino consciously considered the meaning of the six-pointed shape and, instead of thinking that it might be construed as a Star of David and, in the broader context, as anti-Semitic, he figured it was a symbol of law enforcement. Is this possible? Sure. Is it fair to assume the campaign was being deliberately anti-Semitic? No. Is Scavino's excuse likely? Not at all.
As our Dave Weigel reported, the image appears to have originated from an "anti-Hillary Twitter user" with countless images — including at least one in which a swastika is made from various photos of Clinton's face. It was then shared on a racist website.
It's worth stepping back, though, and considering the fact that the excuse offered by the Trump campaign centers on the fact that the social media director "lifted" an image without attribution from somewhere else on the Web. This is the sort of thing that gets people who work for other campaigns (or businesses) fired from their jobs; in this instance, it's a better excuse than saying "we made an image that was perceived as anti-Semitic."
Since Trump is new to campaigning, and since there may be other non-politicians who seek to emulate his success, we've gone ahead and made a little flowchart for how and when one might want to "lift" an image from a website for your own purposes. We hope that Scavino and others find it helpful.