But some major news outlets appeared to be watching a different version of the GOP candidate’s highly-anticipated speech — giving their readers the impression that Trump backed off from his harsh rhetoric on immigration.
The New York Times published a story on Wednesday night stating that Trump’s speech was an “audacious attempt” to change his image on the issue, “shelving his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants” and making a “stark turnaround” on his previous promises to create a deportation force.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 1, 2016
— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) September 1, 2016
The story was widely panned by reporters who pointed out that the first several paragraphs directly contradicted what Trump actually said. Even the New York Times itself wrote a separate story about the speech that characterized it very differently, describing it as “far from softening.”
Although the Time’s initial story in question was — as Media Matters’ Research Director Matthew Gertz noted — heavily edited after publication, much of the original text remains, 12 hours after Trump’s speech.
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) September 1, 2016
— David Nir (@DavidNir) September 1, 2016
Thursday morning’s edition of The Los Angeles Times rejected the idea that Trump is “softening,” but also portrayed Trump as having “backed off his plan to forcibly deport all 11 million people in the U.S. illegally.”
It’s unclear if Trump is backing off of anything, though.
Trump did pay lip service Wednesday night to the fact that there are, in fact, undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes and may contribute to the country. But Trump also made clear in his speech that if made president, he would still commit to the idea of mass deportation, a promise that he has never wavered on since he launched his presidential campaign last year. He said he would increase the number of ICE agents to get the job done.
Over the past two weeks, Trump has aggrieved hardline anti-immigrant Republican voters and teased the media by insisting that he will pursue a “humane” immigration policy plan that is more lenient toward undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for years. The promise came after he met with a newly-formed National Hispanic Advisory Council, who said that Trump had promised a gentler approach to immigration reform.
Despite his harsh speech, Trump continues to claim that his position on this issue is changing. On Thursday morning, Trump insisted that “there’s really quite a bit of softening” when it comes to his immigration plans.
Trump this morning: "Oh, there's softening … I think you're going to see there's really quite a bit of softening." pic.twitter.com/KCxCJAw8HB
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) September 1, 2016
But the idea that Trump is dialing back his immigration policy is little more than a media narrative fueled by the candidate’s inconsistent rhetoric. The issue here is that Trump doesn’t have a serious approach to immigration reform that can be characterized as a real policy plan.
Since Wednesday night’s speech, some major Hispanic supporters have said that they are “reconsidering” their support for Trump.
Tara Culp-Ressler contributed reporting.