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Some influential media observers, such as the Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan, have criticized the media for repeating Trump’s lies about immigration and the caravan. As Sullivan wrote in a tweet accompanying her column, “By picking up the language of “caravan crisis” and “onslaught” — and by allowing themselves to be manipulated — the media does Trump’s bidding. Again.” She continued in detail in her column, writing:
The exodus of migrants walking through Mexico is, no doubt, a real story.
It’s just not the same story that much of the American news media is incredulously — at times hysterically — telling.
The “caravan crisis,” said an ABC News graphic, added with some classic false-equivalency in its chyron: “Both sides seizing on immigration as mid-term nears.”
An “army,” was how the Associated Press described the migrants in a much-criticized tweet that was later deleted.
It’s all a wonderful pre-midterms gift to President Trump, who on Monday declared those moving northward through Mexico a national emergency for the United States.
An “onslaught,” he called it — a word that was quickly picked up as a quote in headlines everywhere. In one tweet, he referred to an “assault on our country.”
As Aidan McLaughlin wrote in Mediaite, the panel members rejected fearmongering in favor of what sounded strangely like that forgotten balm: good sense.
“Treating this as an ‘invasion’ is a bad idea, and it’s going to end horribly,” one panelist said. “People have to realize these are human beings coming here, and there needs to be a real solution offered in dealing with it.”
In the meantime, though, the migrants — trashed as criminals and maybe even terrorists — serve as a perfect foil for Trump, at the perfect time.
The president needs a dependable enemy, as he proves constantly in his harsh rhetoric against the news media.
But once again, that despised enemy manages to help him at every turn.
But some journalists are getting it right, navigating Trump’s mendacity and race-baiting deftly, fairly and accurately. We lift up some of those below.
New York Times: “Trump and G.O.P. Candidates Escalate Race and Fear as Election Ploys”:
President Trump on Monday sharply intensified a Republican campaign to frame the midterm elections as a battle over immigration and race, issuing a dark and factually baseless warning that “unknown Middle Easterners” were marching toward the American border with Mexico.
The unsubstantiated charge marked an escalation of Mr. Trump’s efforts to stoke fears about foreigners and crime ahead of the Nov. 6 vote, as he did to great effect in the presidential race. Mr. Trump and other Republicans are insistently seeking to tie Democrats to unfettered immigration and violent crime, and in some instances this summer and fall they have attacked minority candidates in nakedly racial terms.
Mr. Trump is now railing daily in speeches and on Twitter against the migrant caravan moving north through Central America, and on Monday called it a national emergency. The caravan has dominated conservative talk radio and Fox News, where there has also been loose speculation about a link to terrorism. The apparently groundless inclusion of “unknown Middle Easterners” to the caravan echoes Mr. Trump’s longstanding practice of amplifying fears about Islamic militants on the campaign trail.
In targeting the caravan, the president appears determined to end the election season with a cultural fight over national identity rather than the issues that party leaders initially wanted to run on, like tax cuts or the economy.
But Mr. Trump has not been alone in seeking to divide the electorate along racial lines this fall: As the congressional elections have approached, a number of Republican candidates and political committees have delivered messages plainly aimed at stoking cultural anxiety among white voters and even appealing to overt racism.
Washington Post: “Trump and Republicans settle on fear — and falsehoods — as a midterm strategy”:
President Trump has settled on a strategy of fear — laced with falsehoods and racially tinged rhetoric — to help lift his party to victory in the coming midterms, part of a broader effort to energize Republican voters with two weeks left until the Nov. 6 elections.
Trump’s messaging — on display in his regular campaign rallies, tweets and press statements — largely avoids much talk of his achievements and instead offers an apocalyptic vision of the country, which he warns will only get worse if Democrats retake control of Congress.
The president has been especially focused in recent days on a caravan of about 5,000 migrants traveling north to cross the U.S. border, a group he has darkly characterized as gang members, violent criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” — a claim for which his administration has so far provided no concrete evidence.
Many of the president’s assertions are false or clear distortions of the facts. Trump is incorrect, for example, in his claim that Democrats will “destroy” both Medicare and Social Security, while he has made both programs “stronger.” There is also no evidence that Democrats are paying for the migrant caravan snaking its way north toward the southern border, while voter fraud remains exceedingly rare.
But that has not stopped the president from repeating such false or misleading claims, in part because advisers say his key midterm strategy is to fuel Republican turnout by riling up his most avid supporters, often through frightening and emotional appeals.
Toronto Star: “Donald Trump’s strategy as midterms approach: lies and fear-mongering”:
Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance. Democrats will end insurance protections for people with health problems. Democrats will destroy the Social Security retirement system. Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars. Democrats will abolish America’s borders. Democrats are behind the latest migrant caravan from Latin America. That caravan includes people from the Middle East.
False, false, false, false, false, false, false.
U.S. President Donald Trump made a brief attempt to campaign on his record of accomplishments but, as the November congressional elections approach, he has traded that shiny new positivity for the well-worn tactic that helped him win the presidency in 2016: a blizzard of fear-mongering and lies, many of them about darker-skinned foreigners.
Trump has been a serial liar about just about everything for his entire tenure in office, but he has rarely before deployed so many complete fabrications about so many important subjects at the same time.
His most frequent and significant recent whoppers have centred on immigration, the issue about which his base has been most excited, and health care, the issue polls suggest is most important to the Democratic base.
Trump escalated his immigration dishonesty on Monday morning. Seizing on a groundless claim from a host on his favourite Fox News morning show, he tweeted that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” to a caravan of Latino migrants that began in Honduras.
Reporters travelling with the caravan have seen no Middle Easterners, but the tweet was a way to get voters thinking about the supposed dangers of both Latino criminals and Muslim terrorists, Trump’s two favourite subjects of suspicion in 2016.
NBC News: “Five myths about the Honduran caravan debunked”:
A caravan of thousands of Honduran migrants is headed north in hopes of crossing the U.S. border. You may have heard some scary things about it. What’s true and what’s false? Here are five allegations bouncing around the internet that are definitely “alternative facts.”
MYTH 1: It’s being funded by Democrats.
President Donald Trump said at a campaign rally on Thursday that “a lot of money has been passing to people” traveling north from Honduras. A Republican from Florida, Rep. Matt Gaetz, shared a short video that Trump later promoted of migrants being given cash and suggested that they were being funded by left-leaning activist and investor George Soros.
THE FACTS: There is no evidence the caravan is being led by anyone other than Hondurans.
Bartolo Fuentes, a former Honduran lawmaker and social activist, originally got the word out to Hondurans, calling them to meet at the San Pedro Sula bus station to leave the country. Guatemalan police arrested Fuentes last week in the middle of a crowd, shortly after Trump threatened to cut off funding to Guatemala and Honduras if they did not stop the caravan. The caravan now continues without Fuentes, with a handful of different leaders making logistical decisions about when to depart each city.
Immigration experts attribute the size of the caravan and the timing of its travel to cooler weather, as well as gang violence and political turmoil in Honduras after the country’s contested presidential election last year.
“The reason that the caravans have been organized are to help protect Central American refugees and migrants as they make the perilous journey through Mexico and to highlight their petitions for asylum,” said Elizabeth Oglesby, a professor at the University of Arizona’s Center for Latin American Studies.