The headline of a CNN news of August 11 reads, "In Trump's White House, Charlottesville was a moment that wasn't."

What does "Charlottesville was a moment that wasn't" mean?

  • 2
    The relevant article seems to be saying that when President Donald Trump declared a year ago that "very fine people" were among the Nazi mobs descending upon Charlottesville, this was so obviously "shocking" that all the White House staff would be bound to resign and force a premature end to Trump's presidency. Which is to say it was supposed to be a "defining moment". Except that everyone didn't resign, and Trump is still in post, apparently undamaged by it all. – FumbleFingers Aug 13 '18 at 12:37
  • Isn't this a case of to be used without any complement, meaning "to exist", i.e. "Charlottesville was a moment that [in the minds of those in the White House] didn't exist"? – Nardog Sep 12 '18 at 15:31

They are doing a play on words with:

Charlottesville was a moment that wasn't.

Normally the predicate (the part after Charlottesville was) would further define what the event at Charlottesville was (is), for example: Charlottesville was a moment of reflection on the obesity epidemic in the USA.

Here, CNN further defines the subject by negating it and saying that "In Trump's White House (WH)," the event that happened at Charlottesville was not an event, that is to say, (CNN claims that) they (WH) does not acknowledge, notice, or otherwise give any attention to that event. So, to the WH, it wasn't an event (or moment); thus:

"In Trump's WH, Charelottesville was a moment that was not."

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“Was a moment that wasn't” from:

not for a moment the idiom. TFD

Not for any length of time; not at any point; not at all or in any capacity.

As in:

From the media's point of view:

"In Trump's White House, Charlottesville, a momentous event was ... shrugged off!"

From Trump et. al.:

"The White House has dealt with Charlottesville, and we shall move on!"

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