Accuracy in Media

A piece on Politico previewing the Tuesday meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders appeared to tell the story from the view of the Democratic cloakroom.

It began with the headline: “’I hope he has learned his lesson’: Chuck and Nancy’s rematch with Trump” – subhead: “The Democratic leaders see if they can find common ground with the president.”

“The last time Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer met with Donald Trump it was an unequivocal disaster, culminating in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.”

But it wasn’t a disaster for Trump.

He forced Pelosi to vote for and urge others to vote for legislation to end the standoff that provided $1.75 billion for wall funding – less than the $5.1 billion the president had requested, but far more than the “$1” Pelosi had pledged to provide.

Trump then declared a national emergency at the border, tapped funds from other sources and assembled a package about the size of what he would’ve gotten in the legislation Pelosi had spurned.

The story then noted that “Cooperation will not be easy” and discusses disagreements between the president and Democrats in Congress over disaster aid legislation, prescription drug prices and the infrastructure package that is the topic of the Tuesday meeting.

It then quotes left-wing Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), saying, “Isn’t that ironic? We’re talking about an infrastructure bill or construction for generations to come in the future and we can’t solve the current disaster bill, which is something that needs to be funded now.”

Also working against compromise on infrastructure legislation, Politico noted, is the “bitter constitutional clash over the sprawling investigations into the president, his administration and his personal finances.” This is compounded by the fact “Democratic leaders are also weighing how harshly to condemn Trump – including the possibility of impeachment – after special counsel Robert Mueller presented damning evidence that the president repeatedly attempted to obstruct the Russia probe.

It does not note that the special counsel did not find the evidence damning enough to recommend any charges against the president and punted that issue to the U.S. Attorney General, who promptly declared the evidence did not meet the standard.

It then makes clear this is not about rebuilding America’s infrastructure or making the country stronger in any way. It’s about optics.

“Democrats head into the meeting with hopes of accomplishing two goals,” the piece reads. “First, they want to demonstrate their ability to work across party lines even as they investigate Trump. And leadership wants to allow House members, particularly Democrats in swing districts, to pursue legislation that isn’t destined for the graveyard of the GOP-led Senate.”

The piece then touched on how, in the last meeting of Pelosi, Schumer and Trump, the president “surprised them … by allowing television cameras to roll during the entire meeting, capturing a dramatic tit for tat between the House speaker, Senate minority leader and president over Trump’s proposed wall on the southern border.”

It then quotes Pelosi saying, “I hope he [Trump] has learned his lesson.”

It is not stated what lesson the president should learn. His base watched approvingly as he stood up for the signature issue of his 2016 campaign – immigration at the southern border – and refusing to accept half-measures. The government shutdown broke all records to duration in part because the president’s strong performance on camera kept his allies in Congress from getting cold feet.

The piece then states: “The White House meeting is not only the first since the blow-up over government funding but also the first since Pelosi reclaimed the speaker’s gavel and Democrats took control of the House in January. Since then, she’s repeatedly challenged Trump amid growing partisan recriminations.”

It does not say when or how she “repeatedly challenged” the president or on what grounds or even on what basis “partisan recriminations” are “growing.”

It ended with Politico asking Durbin about “Trump’s relationship with Democrats.” “The state of it? Adversarial in many aspects.” Trump “never calls, you know. I know he has my number.”

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