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The mainstream media is doing an embarrassing job covering Trump’s family separation policy

The NYT, Washington Post, and others have uncritically parroted Trump's false framing.

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

The policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and detaining them in cages was implemented by President Trump, and could be ended by him at any time.

It could also be ended by Congress. A group of Senate Democrats has banded together in support of a bill that would do just that, but not a single Republican has come out in support of it. Given that Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, all it would take is two Republican senators to join 49 Democrats and independents and pass legislation that would end family separation. (Or 11 Republican senators if one of them decided to filibuster the legislation.)

The policy is Trump’s, Democrats are united in opposition, and Republican members of Congress have the power to end it, but refuse to do so. Those are the basic facts of the matter. But if you read publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico, you might be confused about what’s going on.

On Saturday afternoon, the Washington Post published an article framing Trump’s family separation policy as a false equivalency.

“GOP, Democrats are outraged but at odds over ending family separation at border,” reads the article’s headline.

Republicans, however, are not “outraged” enough to actually do anything to stop family separation. If they were, they could join with Democrats and support legislation to end it.

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A Politico article published Sunday makes the same mistake. The piece, headlined “Pressure mounts for Trump to address family separations at border,” discusses letters Republican senators have written to DHS and HHS as if it’s the most members of Congress can do to end the policy. From the article:

GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona amped up the pressure, too, by sending letters to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar seeking to clarify the policy.

“Secretary Nielsen recently appeared before the U.S. Senate and testified that immigrant parents and children who present themselves at U.S. ports of entry to request asylum will not be separated. Despite Secretary Nielsen’s testimony, a number of media outlets have reported instances where parents and children seeking asylum at a port of entry have been separated,” the two senators wrote. “These accounts and others like them concern us.”

A piece from the Associated Press is headlined, “Family separation starts to divide Republicans.” But in reality, Republicans are united in their unwillingness to do anything about the policy.

The New York Times also rushed to give Republicans — specifically, First Lady Melania Trump — way too much credit.

In an article about a statement Melania’s office released on Sunday claiming that “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the Times uncritically spread the false premise of Melania’s statement — that family separation is a “both sides” issue.

In another tweet about the article, the Times spread the lie President Trump has been repeatedly making about his policy — that it somehow isn’t his fault.

In that tweet, the Times uses “argument” as a euphemism for “lie.” It wasn’t even the first time over the weekend they did that.

Consider this tweet:

“Steadfastly tried to deflect blame” is a tortured euphemism the Times used instead of telling the blunt truth — the family separation policy was implemented by the Trump administration, and he’s lying about it.