Survivors of the last week’s Parkland school shooting met with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday to discuss changes to gun control and school safety guidelines that would help curtail future school shootings. The most notable fruits gathered from that discussion were Trump’s suggestions that teachers be armed in the classroom and that schools employ armed veterans to patrol campuses. Two truly stellar ideas.
Upon closer review, however, something arguably more dumbfounding than the president’s suggestion that handguns become a teacher supply was what he held in his hand as he put forth that idea. Apparently, the president held a handwritten note listing questions and statements that appeared to be meant to remind him to maintain a sympathetic tone during the meeting, including a reminder for the president to let the survivors know that “I hear you.”
A photo taken by Getty Images photographer Chip Somodevilla captured the cheat sheet held between the president’s hands during the meeting on Wednesday. Three of the five numbered statements are visible in the photo, and according to CNN, they read: “1. What would you most want me to know about your experience?” “2. What can we do to help you feel safe?” and “5. I hear you.”
While Trump didn’t appear to use the note much, if at all, during the meeting, the fact that he would need a supplementary device to remember to show basic human decency and sympathy to survivors of one of the worst school shootings in the nation’s history is ridiculous. Regardless of whether he actually needed reminding or someone assumed that he did, it looks poorly for the White House as they attempt to spin the photo against the grain of public opinion following last week’s events in Parkland.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has caused a photography fiasco. According to Gizmodo, the White House has inadvertently revealed sensitive information in public settings with photographers present multiple times. DHS chief nominee Kris Kobach’s infamous “boot out all the ‘criminal aliens’” plan was revealed in a photo and longtime Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller exposed Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s personal cell phone number on a Post-It note in photos taken in public settings.