Here's all the proof you need that Trump played the press by hyping the migrant caravan before the midterms

What was the newsworthy bit, after all?

Image via screengrab

Yeah, New York TimesGo figure.

There was little dispute, even before Election Day, that Mr. Trump was exploiting the caravan for political purposes. But analysts, historians and veterans of previous administrations said there were few comparable instances of a commander in chief warning about what he called a looming threat, only to drop it as soon as people voted.

What might have helped, of course, is for all of the news outlets who already knew full well Trump was "exploiting the caravan for political purposes" to have mentioned that rather more prominently to their readers. Instead of, say, writing breathlessly on the "caravan" every last time some Trump-allied idiot blurted out some new word-mush about it. Media Matters, on November 2, via Atrios:

The New York Times and The Washington Post have run a total of 115 news stories in their print editions mentioning the caravan over the last three weeks. Each paper has run at least one such story on its front page on nine of the last 10 days.

In a shock to absolutely all of us, ahem, it's fair to say that the Times and the Postappeared to lose interest in the still-moving, still-a-humanitarian-crisis caravan pretty much the same moment the Republican Party did. So what's up with that?

If you're wondering, the current New York Times story about the caravan (above) is, in fact, entirely concerned with the political implications of the caravan. Did it boost Republicans, or hurt them? Did the exit polls have anything to say about the caravan? Are the bored-out-of-their-minds soldiers on the border noticing Trump's new disinterest in the caravan?

Here's a thought experiment: Does it actually matter, and did it ever actually matter, whether the caravan actually existed? If it did not, and if the whole thing was a figment of Donald Trump's imagination, a dream he had that he kept insisting on and that allies repeated for his benefit and amusement, would the New York Times have treated it markedly different?

What was the newsworthy bit, after all? That there was a group of still-distant refugees who were fleeing violence and poverty and who were willing to walk the entirety of Mexico to seek asylum in our country if necessary, or that a group of racist political hacks sliding through the corridors of power were saying racist and asinine things about it on the eve of an election they were increasingly convinced they were going to lose?

If Trump declares tomorrow that the state of Arizona is, in fact, a communist plot, will the New York Times, the Post, and every major television outlet run with the Arizona: Possible Communist Plot storyline and damn everything else? Because all evidence suggests that they absolutely would. All evidence suggests that the Free Press, as it now exists, is so obsessed with repeating the words of the powerful that it does not much matter whether those words are false, or are misleading, or are obvious propaganda meant solely to swing U.S. elections in whatever way the already-elected wants them swung.

We heard about Hillary Clinton's emails incessantly, in the New York Times, because Republican functionaries were forever announcing new, false theories about them. We heard outlandish, fabricated tales about the Clinton Foundation, in the pages of the press, because a known huckster had a book to sell and the press knife-fought one another for the rights to tell the lies loudest and first. We heard about the caravanbecause a group of racist hacks pulled the panic of the nation's white supremacist underground into their own press releases and the press obligingly put "caravan" into front-page stories for a week.

This isn't coincidence. It's the press deciding to act as megaphone for powerful propagandists, rather than their foil, under the premise that "neutrality" demands giving such propagandists the coverage they desire for no other reason than the raw importance of the person saying such things. It happens over and over, and there has yet to be even the smallest hint that any in the press are rethinking the arrangement.

To be sure, the press reports other stories. The press continues to report on scandals, and gaffes, and other national doings. But when it comes to our national elections and anything that even fleetingly touches upon them, the propagandists now have the press’s number. They know, with great certainty, how to weaponize the American press against the American public to stoke whatever fears they momentarily need stoked, on any given week. That would seem to be a rather large problem, yes?

 

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