Richard Grenell, Trump’s former director of national intelligence, was tricked into thanking a convicted war criminal for his service on Veteran’s Day.
Grenell regularly taunts the media on Twitter but was given a taste of his own medicine when he was trolled by Ken Klippenstein, a correspondent for left-leaning magazine The Nation.
Klippenstein played to Grenell’s ego by asking him to give a shoutout to his grandfather Bill Calley, “a huge fan of yours”.
The name clearly didn’t ring any bells, as four minutes later Grenell replied enthusiastically: “Thank you for your service, Bill Calley!”
Bill Calley was convicted of killing at least 22 unarmed people in the My Lai Massacre in 1968, during the Vietnam War. The Army officer was sentenced to life in prison, but after a new trial served just three years under house arrest.
Happy Veterans Day! pic.twitter.com/cotDkDUGs6
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) November 11, 2020
Once he’d been let in on the joke, Richard Grenell wasn’t happy. “Duped,” he admitted, before shaming the journalist for his poor taste.
“Trying to be helpful to people who reach out on Veteran’s Day. It’s a shame people would do this on a day like today. DC is a sick city,” he wrote, tagging Klippenstein.
“Veteran’s Day should be a day to recognize that we are the home of the free because of the brave. The sick jokes at the expense of our great Vets is disgusting. Truly disturbing.”
The embarrassing prank quickly spread far and wide, with former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann calling him a “towering imbecile.”
Producer Suzanne Lindbergh shamed him further: “My 17 year old said ‘that’s the dude from the My Lai massacre’ when I showed her Ken’s tweet. You were the country’s DNI. Terrifying.”
“When people introduced you as the Director of National Intelligence, did they say that last word really sarcastically?” asked the US historian Kevin Kruse.