Accuracy in Media

President Trump’s reelection campaign is “quickly taking shape around divisive messages centered on immigration and patriotism,” according to a story in Tuesday’s Washington Post.

The bias started with the headline on the story by Seung Min Kim and Toluse Olorunnipa, which read: “Trump focuses on divisive messages as 2020 reelection bid takes shape.”

After recounting parts of the president’s remarks in Minnesota on Monday about “’how unfairly you’ve been treated as a state’ when it comes to immigration,” and how he said Rep. Ilham Omar (D-Minn.), whose anti-Semitic comments and others dismissive of 9/11 have been in the news, the Post reporters attempted to summarize.

“The dueling Trumps on Tax Day highlighted a parallel dynamic at play ahead of his reelection bid: While the broader GOP apparatus is attempting to focus on the economy, the campaigner in chief is seizing on more confrontational messages that may appeal to the base but potentially turn off swing voters.”

It then quotes an operative from the George W. Bush administration saying that to expand the popularity of the president and the party, Trump should talk about the economy and tax cuts, not immigration or Omar.

“Every time they choose to double down and talk about immigration, they lose an opportunity.”

Vox pursued a similar theme in late March with a story about a study that purported to show that, as the headline stated, “Hate crimes reportedly jumped by 226 percent in counties that hosted Trump campaign rallies” – subhead: “The president frequently gets called out for failing to forcefully condemn white nationalism.”

The story dutifully notes that the authors of the study did not establish any causation nor did it consider the possibility the increase in violence may be people attacking Trump supporters.

For instance, just days before the article appeared, an 81-year-old man was attacked for wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

In March, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University chronicled 10 high-profile attacks on people wearing MAGA hats in a six-week period beginning with the attacks on the boys from Covington Catholic High in Kentucky on the day of the March for Life.

But it was Trump who was peddling hate, according to the Washington Post. Kim and Olorunnipa wrote that “the Trump campaign, the White House and the Republican National Committee were all following the same playbook Monday, the first Tax Day to reflect the full impact of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts, with a messaging effort reminding voters that the law had saved most Americans money.”

The White House put out two news releases on the subject, one by Treasury Sec. Stephen Mnuchin. The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a video. A Republican congressman from Indiana wrote an op-ed on the successes of the tax cuts.

But “Trump, on the other hand, fired off several morning tweets that veered far off topic. There was the tweet urging Boeing to rebrand its troubled 737 Max plane, another urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to bring back House members from their 2-week recess to “FIX THE IMMIGRATION LAWS!” and a call to “INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!”

Republicans “rationalized Trump’s use of 9/11 imagery by saying that Omar’s remarks from a March speech – in which she emphasized the discrimination that Muslims in the United States faced after the 2001 attacks, when ‘some people did something’ – were deeply offensive,” wrote Kim and Olorunnipa.

They did not offer an explanation for why Trump’s comments needed to be rationalized.

The two then quoted Chris Whipple, an author critical of Trump, on why the president doesn’t get more credit for the tax cuts or other accomplishments.

“Trump’s inability to focus on a single message … is a key reason some of his accomplishments haven’t gained traction with the public,” the Post reporters wrote.

“‘He can’t even focus on the few things that he’s accomplished,’ Whipple said. ‘He goes for the jugular. He throws raw meat to the base. That’s his comfort zone. It’s not talking about accomplishments.’”

Photo by NATO

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