Accuracy in Media

President Trump’s decision to part ways with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has been converted by the mainstream media into an opportunity to try to force the president to sour on top aide Stephen Miller.

“How border hardliners nudged out Nielsen,” read the headline on Priscilla Alvarez’s and Geneva Sands’ story on CNN.  

“Republicans Blame Stephen Miller for Trump’s Reckless D.H.S. Purge,” wrote Vanity Fair on top of Tina Nguyen’s story.

“Trump Just Purged DHS Because Its Leaders Weren’t Breaking the Law Enough,” read the headline on Mark Joseph Stern’s story on Slate, which says in its lead the “Monday Afternoon Massacre” was “masterminded” by Miller “as part of an effort to crack down on immigration at the southern border.”

“At the center of Trump’s Homeland chaos, Stephen Miller is the lone survivor,” read the headline on NBS News’ website. “Analysis: The hard-edged young White House policy aide has survived all his rivals, and Trump’s central 2020 campaign issue now belongs to him,” read the subhead on the story by Jonathan Allen.

“The iconoclastic hard-line young conservative policy aide to President Donald Trump, hated by the left, and celebrated by the extreme right, is the obvious winner in the power struggle that led to Kirstjen Nielsen’s ouster Sunday night,” read the second paragraph of Allen’s story.

“Here’s the backhanded and completely vile way Stephen Miller sabotaged Trump’s former DHS secretary,” read the headline on AlterNet’s story by Alex Henderson. The story quotes from Quartz, which quoted anonymous sources labeled “former agency officials” as saying Miller “would leak information on the number of people apprehended at the U.S./Mexico border and refugees seeking asylum to the Washington Examiner – and after the Examiner published that information … “ and “Miller would print it out and give it to Trump.”

Miller “engineered” a “coup,” Slate reported, by not only getting Trump angry enough at Nielsen to ask for her resignation, but also managing to bypass Claire Grady, the career civil servant who otherwise would be in line to become acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security until a permanent appointee is approved by the Senate.

The idea was to steer the job to Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, which “has repeatedly broken the law to implement Trump’s first travel ban, is a “strong proponent of a border wall and “infamously failed to inform Congress that a 7-year-old girl died in CBP custody.”

Why all the deck shuffling?

“Trump and Miller plainly expect that McAleenan will rubber-stamp illegal policies that Nielson was unwilling to execute,” Stern wrote.

CNN unwittingly seems of two minds on how Nielsen lost her job – because one allows for a shot at Miller.

“It also demonstrates the power of immigration hardliners inside the White House, including national surety adviser John Bolton and senior adviser Stephen Miller, who, despite her defense of the administration’s controversial policies, still deemed Nielsen insufficiently tough when it came to stemming the flow of migrants to the border,” CNN wrote.

Then it says, “According to multiple administration officials, over the past few months it had become clear to many inside the White House that Nielsen had few allies left in the West Wing, particularly following last year’s departure of chief of staff John Kelly. It turned out she had had conflicts with Mick Mulvaney, the current chief of staff, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a top aide, and others, and had become “an island unto herself inside the West Wing.”

The Vanity Fair piece used oblique quotes from senators asked about the departure of Nielsen to claim “there were also hints at a hardening distaste for Miller: some voices in the administration, [Sen. John] Cornyn, R-Texas, told The Hill, ‘are creating more problems for the administration by losing senior leadership in these important positions.

“’That’s bound to make the president’s and the administration’s job harder.’”

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