Trump’s Immigration Pause And The Media Backlash

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Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media continue their misleading reporting about President Donald Trump’s executive order, which calls for temporarily limiting immigration into the United States from seven countries, and a review of refugee policy. The media have blatantly sought to undermine Trump’s initiatives.

Judge James Robart, who serves on the District Court for the Western District of Washington State, asked the Department of Justice representative, “How many arrests have there been of foreign nationals for those seven countries since 9/11?” Robart then continued, saying, “The answer to that is none, as best I can tell.”

Well, Judge Robart is wrong. Data provided to Congress indicates that between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2014, “at least 60” persons from those seven countries were convicted “of terror-related offenses,” writes Byron York for The Washington Examiner. There may have been more, since an additional 129 persons convicted of these crimes were “of unknown origin,” York reports.

Yet ABC News sought to downplay the security risk individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen pose. Instead, it reports that “Only eight of the 78 attacks that appeared on a White House list of terrorist incidents over the past two years were committed by individuals from the seven countries affected by Donald Trump’s immigration order…”

In other words, ABC is arguing that the travel pause would have little national security benefit. “In fact, the list provided by the White House shows Americans were responsible for more attacks than those from the seven banned countries combined,” reports ABC News.

The media have clearly chosen a side in the debate about the travel pause, and are willing to deceive their audience. In a recent appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer got into a discussion with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) over Obama’s immigration record, and its similarity to Trump’s recent immigration executive order.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that this [Trump’s action] is unconstitutional or illegal,” said Labrador, a former immigration attorney, on CNN. “In fact, the President of the United States, our previous president, President Obama, did the same actions three times during his administration. There wasn’t a single protest.”

“There were some nuance—there were some differences. We don’t have to go through all of that,” replied Blitzer.

Why did Blitzer not want to get into specifics with Rep. Labrador? It might have informed his viewers. Instead, Blitzer aired a misleading clip featuring former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

According to the edited clip, Giuliani stated, “When he [Trump] first announced it, he said Muslim ban. He called me up, he said, put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.”

Blitzer doubled down after airing the misleading Giuliani clip, saying, “So, basically, what Rudy Giuliani helped him come up with was this formula for having a Muslim ban, but not calling it a Muslim ban.”

LABRADOR: You’re misleading a little bit, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tell me why.
LABRADOR: If you listen to the entire interview…Rudy Giuliani said…that a Muslim ban would be unconstitutional, illegal.
BLITZER: You believe that?

Blitzer, like so many in the media, is skeptical that Trump might have had other than bigoted motives. He is clearly taking a side in this argument, and abandoning journalistic impartiality.

NBC had been called out just the day before for showing this deceptively edited clip. In full context, Giuliani continued by saying, “And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on.”

Opponents of Trump’s travel pause claim that the President’s immigration executive order is religiously motivated and discriminatory. So, too, The Wall Street Journal reports that critics note that “all seven affected nations are majority Muslim…”

The media, and Democrats, are engaging in hysteria by labeling this a “Muslim ban.” This is worse than hyperbole—it is deception. After all, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries have significant Muslim populations and yet have not been blocked. An estimated 85 percent of all Muslims are not affected by Trump’s executive order.

We are right now contemplating no other countries,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress this week, admitting the executive order was rolled out too hastily, for which he himself took the blame.

“The bottom line is that Trump is improving security screening and intends to admit refugees at close to the average rate of the 15 years before Obama’s dramatic expansion in 2016,” wrote David French for National Review, in a sober analysis of what the executive order does and does not do. “Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction.”

To his detriment, President Trump appears to be getting in the way of his own potential success. He argued at a recent meeting of law enforcement officials in Washington that “A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this.” In other words, he argued, a clear reading of the law should grant the government victory in this case.

This is a misstep by Trump. It is, as The Hill reports, “highly unusual for presidents to publicly comment on court cases dealing with their policy proposals,” especially when a case is open.

Trump is also putting the judiciary in a position to directly challenge him; he has made this into a high-profile showdown with his inept utterances.

Trump also asserted that the media have not sufficiently covered terrorist incidents. Trump told troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa this week that “It’s gotten to a point where it’s [terror] not even reported, and in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t even want to report it.” His administration then issued a list of 78 attacks that had taken place between September 2014 and December 2016. The liberal media had a field day with the list, citing misspellings and proclaiming that they had covered many of those events, often for days at a time. National Public Radio (NPR), for example, claims this was false, because most news organizations covered the attacks in Paris; San Bernardino, California; the Orlando night club; and others.

But, as Robert Spencer points out for Jihad Watch, it is not the act of covering the attacks for which the media have been derelict—it is how these events are covered. “But in virtually all cases, they did all they could to obscure the motivating ideology behind those attacks,” writes Spencer. “They deliberately conceal and/or misrepresent the aspects of them that make it clear that they’re Islamic jihad attacks. This is in accord with the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists, which tells journalists not to connect Islam with terrorism, and to obscure that connection wherever possible.”

Once a terrorist has been confirmed to have Islamic jihadist ties, the media then question whether the attacker was a “self-radicalized lone wolf.” Whether these jihadi terrorists were inspired by the Islamic State or al Qaeda, or were directed members of these terrorist groups, makes little difference. Islamic jihadist terrorists drink from the same poisonous well.

Perhaps the starkest example of the treatment of such an act, by the Obama administration and the media, was the case of Major Nidal Hasan, who murdered 13 and injured 32 others at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas back in September of 2009. For approximately five years the case was treated as “workplace violence.” It wasn’t until 2015—nearly three years after 150 family members who struggled to pay their medical bills filed a lawsuit—that the government switched its position and gave the wounded victims Purple Hearts, which carried with them added medical benefits and the acknowledgement that they had been wounded in the line of duty.

As long as the public allows it, the media will continue to avoid honest discussions about the real terror threat that jihadists and potential terrorists from these seven countries—and others—pose to the health and welfare of American citizens.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

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