Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post and Kansas City Star produced stories on Tuesday that seemed coordinated in saying Trump is trying to steal the midterm elections by instilling fear in voters.

The Post piece, headlined, “Trump and Republicans settle on fear – and falsehoods – as a midterm strategy,” by Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, gets right to it in the lead:

“President Trump has settled on a strategy of fear – laced with falsehoods and racially tinged rhetoric – to help lift his party to victory in the coming midterms,” it begins.

“Trump’s messaging – on display in his regular campaign rallies, tweets and press statements – largely avoids much talk of his achievements and instead offers an apocalyptic vision of the country, which he warns will only get worse if Democrats retake control of Congress.”

The Star’s piece, “Donald Trump’s strategy as midterms approach: lies and fear-mongering” by Daniel Dale, its Washington bureau chief, follows a similar theme in its lead:

“Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance. Democrats will end insurance protections for people with health problems. Democrats will destroy the Social Security retirement system. Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars. Democrats will abolish America’s borders. Democrats are behind the latest migrant caravan from Latin America. That caravan includes people from the Middle East.

“False, false, false, false, false, false, false.

“U.S. President Donald Trump made a brief attempt to campaign on his record of accomplishments but, as the November congressional elections approach, he has traded that shiny new positivity for the well-worn tactic that helped him win the presidency in 2016: a blizzard of fear-mongering and lies, many of them about darker-skinned foreigners.”

A look at Trump’s most recent rally speech – on Monday night in Houston in support of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas – shows the president giving fairly typical political remarks.

He spent a lot of time on his accomplishments – he talked about deregulation, tax cuts and his plan to sign another 10 percent income tax aimed at middle-income families, his previous tax cuts, the historically low unemployment rates, his two Supreme Court nominees, his administration’s response to hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and his pro-energy record that includes withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords and approving projects from the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines to drilling off the coasts and in Alaska.

He did mention Hillary Clinton, the caravan of migrants moving up from Central America, making NATO pay, the problems with the Democrats’ approach on immigration, but this was not a speech laced with fear.

It also is not true that, as the Post reported, “the president has been especially focused in recent days on a caravan of about 5,000 migrants traveling north to cross the U.S. border, a group he has darkly characterized as gang members, violent criminals and ‘unknown Middle Easterners’ – a claim for which his administration has so far provided no concrete evidence.”

The Star report also focused on the unknown Middle Easterners. “Trump has been a serial liar about just about everything for his tenure in office, but he has rarely before deployed so many complete fabrications about so many important subjects at the same time,” Dale wrote.

But the president “escalated his immigration dishonesty on Monday morning. Seizing on a groundless claim from a host on his favorite Fox News morning show, he tweeted that ‘criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” to a caravan of Latino migrants that began in Honduras.”

The proof for both the Post and the Star that this is a lie is that, as Dale wrote, “reporters traveling with the caravan have seen no Middle Easterners.”

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced his government detained “close to 100 persons completely involved with terrorists, with ISIS and we have not only detained them within our territory, but they have been deported to their country of origin.”

This was on Friday, as the march was moving through his country.  

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