Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump’s plan to divert funding from military construction projects to building the border wall moved a step closer to reality this week when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper released the list of projects whose funding would be delayed so the funds could be shifted.

Then, the media did its part – finding every possible hardship that could be inflicted by the funds and ridiculing the project and its mission.

“A National Guard readiness center in Puerto Rico. A hazardous material storage building on a US military base in Germany. A training facility for special operations forces working to deter Russia in Europe. Upgrades at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York.

“Those are just some of the 127 affected military construction projects that will be defunded and delayed so President Donald Trump can build roughly 175 miles of wall on the southern border,” wrote Alex Ward of Vox in “Trump is taking money from Puerto Rico’s recovery and European security to fund his wall” subhead: “Even West Point and schools for kids are impacted.”

Salon’s story – “Another Brick in Trump’s Wall,” subhead: “The administration’s latest move to divert funds from military programs to the border shows why the president’s ‘state of emergency’ is so dangerous” by Fred Kaplan – leaned heavily on Democrat talking points.

It’s not just that other programs had their funding delayed, it was “a blatant test case of President Trump’s flexing his ‘emergency powers’ in an unprecedented way – which, if it’s allowed to stand, could inspire many more power grabs in the future,” Kaplan wrote.

“Ordinarily, statutes bar the executive branch from ‘reprogramming’ more than a few million dollars, from one set of projects to another, without congressional approval,” Kaplan wrote. But “to build a piece of his wall, Trump ordered his defense secretary to raid funds for projects that were still in the works.” Trump “has justified the transfer by invoking a rarely-used statute” that allows funds for military construction to be shifted in the event of a national emergency, which the president declared on the border in February.

Plus, it’ll be forever before any of this makes any difference. Kaplan wrote that the Pentagon’s comptroller said this week construction of the wall couldn’t begin for 100-140 days. “In other words, a full year might lapse between the time of Trump’s declaration and the beginning of fence construction – hardly an emergency in the everyday sense of the word,” Kaplan wrote.

Plus, the 175 miles of wall that would get built with these funds “would cover a mere 8 percent of the 1,954-mile border between the United States and Mexico.”

The Washington Post’s take was to announce that it will continue to consider Trump to have lied when he says the wall is being built because it is not a concrete wall but bollard fencing.

“Spurned by Congress and Mexico, Trump nonetheless has found ways to keep alive his efforts to fortify the border,” wrote Salvador Rizzo in “More than two years later, Trump’s wall remains unbuilt.”

“But as it was last year, so it is now: A fence is not a wall.

“Replacing dilapidated vehicle barriers and weathered fencing with newer, sturdier stuff is the kind of routine government business that predated Trump. It’s fair to say Trump is trying to put this routine business on steroids, but that’s still a far cry from the massive new bulwark made of concrete that he promised for so long.

“Furthermore, only 64 miles of fences and barriers have been built during Trump’s presidency, far short of the 1,000 miles he once pledged, and far short of the 450 to 529 miles he now pledges. The new construction so far replaced older fences and barriers. So we will reaffirm our Three Pinocchio ruling.”

Rizzo is incorrect. Already, sections of new wall are under construction in New Mexico near El Paso and in Arizona.   

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