Does Donald Trump Know Who Aretha Franklin Was?

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Does Donald Trump Know Who Aretha Franklin Was?

By this point, it’s been very clearly established that Donald Trump is not very good at much of anything. He is not a terribly smart man, and, by most accounts, also not a well man. And today, as the world mourns Aretha Franklin—the Queen of Soul and the greatest singer of her generation—we must wonder: Does Donald Trump even know who Aretha Franklin was?

His response to the news has been both confused and inappropriate. Let’s see what he said on this sad day:

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!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018

This is a very strange way to phrase this sentiment. His tweet reads like it was written by someone who only recently learned Aretha Franklin was a singer.

Then there’s this bit of information from the White House press pool:

So, Donald Trump thought Aretha Franklin was someone who worked for him? It’s as if he was told that Aretha Franklin died, and somewhere in his very small brain he thought that name sounded familiar, and must be one of his employees he forgot about.


Based on archive photos, Donald Trump and Aretha Franklin had been in the same general vicinity a few times in the ’90s. In 1997, Franklin performed at a private event hosted by Trump to celebrate the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York. None of Trump’s responses, however, indicate that he remembers any of this—she was just some singer who worked for him a while back.

But, even when someone did appear to brief him on who she was, the guy still couldn’t get it right:

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?

— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) August 16, 2018

Let’s compare Trump’s response to that of Barack Obama’s:

Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018

If someone told Donald Trump Colonel Sanders died, he’d probably make it a national day of mourning.

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