Accuracy in Media

Reporters who have covered the travails of a Massachusetts woman who was arrested after she knocked a “Make America Great Again” cap off the head of a man in a Mexican restaurant have struggled to keep their personal feelings out of the news columns.

Katie Mettler of the Washington Post was one such reporter.

“Two weeks ago in Massachusetts, a woman from Brazil was arrested for allegedly accosting a man wearing a Make America Great Again hat while he ate at a Mexican restaurant,” Mettler wrote in “She knocked a MAGA hat off a man’s head in a Mexican restaurant. Now she could be deported.”

Calling the person arrested, Rosiane Santos, 41, of Falmouth, “a woman from Brazil” leaves out a key detail. She is an illegal immigrant. That is why Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking to deport her.

Mettler admits the evidence is strong. Santos, she wrote, “was recorded on video swatting the hat off the man’s head and later told police she didn’t believe he should be allowed inside a Mexican establishment while touting President Trump’s MAGA refrain,” Mettler wrote without explaining what it means to “tout a refrain.”

Five paragraphs later, Mettler let readers in on the secret. “On the way out, police said, she hit the man a final time, swatting again at his hat. Santos’ bail was set at $40, and she was released. She later pleaded not guilty. Now Santos – who is living in the United States without legal documentation – also faces possible deportation.”

Her next concern was how Immigration and Customs Enforcement found out about Santos. She asked the Falmouth Police Department whether it knew of her immigration status and whether it informed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. “It is possible, a police spokesperson said, that a notification to ICE was triggered when Santos’ name was entered into the department’s systems.”

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Mettler the agency doesn’t discuss its intelligence and research tools and methods.

Then she blamed the whole thing on the man wearing the hat. “The Massachusetts incident is one example of how Trump’s signature phrase – Make America Great Again – has become a flashpoint in American daily life.”

She mentioned the 19-year-old in New Jersey who assaulted an 81-year-old man over his hat and a California high school student who was banned from wearing her MAGA hat on campus and has taken the school to court over it.

And it wasn’t that Jussie Smollett claimed, “allegedly falsely,” that he was assaulted by two men in Chicago yelling this was “MAGA country,” it was that Donald Trump Jr. said days later in an interview that “people wearing MAGA hats in downtown Chicago would be shot in ‘two seconds.’”

Then, to drive it home, “Most notably, the red MAGA symbol was part of a national debate about a January confrontation at the Mall in Washington between a Kentucky high school student wearing the hate and a Native American man.”

Newsweek also was more interested in how Immigrations and Customs Enforcement found out about Santos than how someone from Brazil came to be living illegally in Massachusetts. And it also blamed it on the victim, quoting her husband, an American citizen, to justify her actions.

The husband told Newsweek that, by “wearing a MAGA hat ‘to a Mexican restaurant,’” the victim was “’trying to provoke some people.’”

Emmanuel Santos said, “Being a foreigner you go through a lot. She’s been through a lot in her life. She felt she had to stand up for herself and for other people.” quoted the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition that said, “It’s unfortunate that ICE has taken Ms. Santos into custody before her case is adjudicated in the courts. ICE interference disrupts our justice system and denies both sides the resolution they deserve.

“As you can see in ICE’s own report, ICE arrests of people in Ms. Santos’ situation increased fivefold in the first two years of the Trump administration. That’s a disturbing trend and bad news for our justice system.”

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