Area journalists report the shocking news that Donald Trump has dropped the racist story he brought up in obvious bad faith before the election:
For weeks before the midterm elections, President Trump warned ominously about the threat from a caravan of migrants streaming from Central America toward Mexico’s border with the United States. It was a fearsome mix of criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners,” Mr. Trump claimed darkly, one that constituted a genuine national emergency.
But since the election last week, Mr. Trump has tweeted about the caravan exactly once — to issue a proclamation preventing those who cross the border illegally from applying for asylum in the United States. Fox News, which faithfully amplified Mr. Trump’s warnings about the migrants, has gone similarly quiet on the subject.
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.
While the caravan has faded from television screens, the costs of Mr. Trump’s response to it have not. Nearly 6,000 active-duty troops remain deployed from the Gulf Coast to Southern California, where they are putting up tents and stringing concertina wire to face a ragtag band that is still not near the border.
If there was little dispute that this was a scam, the question remains about why the nation’s media outlets went along with it so willingly. If the answer is that “well of course what the president says is A1 news day after day” this is complete bullshit. Presidential statements are not normally big news. Even if you’re unaware of the political science on the question, just think of the most recent elections — was it Obama who injected EBOLA and EMAILS! into the discourse? And in addition to this, it doesn’t explain why the media covered exactly the parts of his statements he wanted them to cover, as opposed to (say) his constant howlers about healthcare policy, as it happens the policy that mattered most to midterm voters. This is a Trump-specific problem, and the media has the agency to act differently. As a Canadian philosopher once said, when you choose not to stop pretending to believe Republicans when they pretend to care about some ad hoc scandal or vehicle for racist scaremongering you still have made a choice.