The hysteria last weekend over President Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration visas from certain countries is a perfect case study of what both an administration and a press that wants to be taken seriously should not do.
The Trump administration deserves every bit of the criticism thrown its way for the keystone kops, Obamacare website style rollout of its executive order, but it is the national press that should be truly ashamed if itself.
While cable and broadcast networks made sure to put scenes of airport protests on a continual loop, the print press led by the New York Times and the Washington Post happily contributed a supplanting narrative of mass chaos and within hours another media made meme was spreading around the globe.
If you weren’t inclined to go looking for yourself the facts behind the hype, you would have thought that big bad evil ol Mr. Trump had just denied tens of thousands of people their legal right to enter the United States.
The twitter hashtag #MuslimBan instantly became a nationwide media narrative and the “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” proved itself just as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 19th.
Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the press our founding fathers carved out Constitutional protections for is a press that reports news on the news pages and leaves opinion to the editorial pages. (Granted, I am expecting today that which is all too often no longer so, but that won’t keep me from wanting.)
As incompetent as the rollout of the policy change was, the reporting on it went beyond incompetence and raced right into press induced hysteria. The amount of misinformation and misrepresentation that has been put out by so many self-described “journalists” should alarm every American regardless of political party or personal beliefs.
After watching and reading from multiple sources and outlets over this past week, I am convinced that personal animosity and in some cases overt hate for Donald Trump has now “trumped” any idea of objective coverage of him and his administration over the coming years.
Lost in the effort to convince the American people that Trump had issued a blanket ban on Muslims were the actual facts of the order.
The order is actually more of a pause than a ban with time lines of 90 and 120 days depending upon the issue.
The order of temporary pause covers a mere seven countries that are either already known hotbeds of terrorist activity, have no functioning/stable nationwide government for which documents can be relied upon or as in the case of Iran have a government openly hostile to the United States. It is anything but a blanket ban on Muslims.
There is one section dealing with visa reciprocity and how Americans are treated overseas and another that expedites the complete of a biometric entry-exit tracking system “as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.”
And those who got their information only from the “approved” and “established” news sources this past week would never even know that the order also has a complete section on transparency and cost.
Within 180 days and every 180 days thereafter, the federal government is to begin publishing data of crime committed by foreign nationals and the Secretary of State has to complete within a year a report detailing the long term costs to the American taxpayer of the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
It is the personal right of every journalist, news executive, and producer across the country to hate to the deepest pits of hell the current President of the United States. It is however not their right to deny the American people their right to be given their news in an objective, fact based manner. To do anything less is to spit on the very Constitution that protects them.
Publisher’s Note: A version of this column first appeared in the February 5, 2017 print edition of the Joplin Globe.