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Children in Cages! Yellow Journalism Finds the Perfect Tale

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By Walter Donway

June 27, 2018

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A Good Smear is Like Good Sex

Because it feels good just to go on and on. And because each sensation has to be more powerful than the last.

With the November 2018 midterm elections looming, and President Trump’s approval ratings rising—not to mention headlines like North Korea’s pledge to “de-nuclearize”—the Liberal-Left media were getting horny. They had been trying for two years to screw President Trump. Metrics vary both month to month and yardstick to yardstick, but no one denies that media airtime exposing the President’s wickedness—as politician, policy maker, parent, and person—dwarfs positive or neutral coverage.

Once word got out that illegals with small children would be let loose into America, the number of children crossing the border exploded.

In other words, nothing has changed since the 2016 election when the Liberal-Left mainstream (“legacy”?) media staked everything on defeating candidate Donald Trump—including its reputation for objectivity, impartial judgment, honesty, and even decency. Ever since, the NYT has run an ad campaign with the sole, plaintive message: We report the truth. A very rudimentary sales pitch for “The Greatest Publication that Absolutely Ever Was” (as former Timesman Allen Drury parodied the Times in his 1996 bestseller, Capable of Honor).

And then, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive that immigration law at the border must be enforced consistently. There should be no on-the-spot bureaucratic discretion, no exceptions, for those illegally entering the United States. No give-and-take; zero tolerance.

Specifically, that meant end of the hand-slapping approach: a court summons date with no bond to ensure appearance, release into the vastness of the United States, and only intermittent return to the justice system. Apparently, this “catch-and-release” procedure as it is called by opponents, had been applied in some or many cases to adults who were accompanied by minor children. Now, the policy would be to take the law-breaker into custody to await the summons date in court. The law would be applied consistently: Enter the U.S. illegally, with or without children, and the consequences are predictable.

John Nolte writes that “Until Obama…illegal border crossings primarily involved young, single men. Obama incentivized the idea of dragging minor children along on this dangerous journey (where many children are sexually assaulted) through his policy of ‘catch and release’…. Once word got out that illegals with small children would be let loose into America, the number of children crossing the border exploded.”

In many cases, those newly flocking over the border are traffickers given incentives to drag along children in expectation of the “catch and release” policy. President Trump has countered this new flood of illegal immigrants—parents and not parents—with a policy of treating all illegal entrants the same.

When someone is arrested and incarcerated, at least in the United States, their children are not incarcerated with them—families are not kept united in jail. If you are arrested, the fact that you have minor children does not influence whether or not you are held in custody or, if convicted, what sentence the law imposes. Nor should it.

When someone is arrested and incarcerated, at least in the United States, their children are not incarcerated with them—families are not kept united in jail. If you are arrested, the fact that you have minor children does not influence whether or not you are held in custody or, if convicted, what sentence the law imposes. Nor should it.

Nolte points out that “Asylum seekers who respect our laws, by turning themselves in at legal points of entry, are not being separated. Over-crowding due to the abuse of this policy might eventually make this impossible, but it is up to Congress to allocate more funds.” [Emphasis his]

And so, with illegal entrants remanded to custody, they were separated from their minor children and the children housed in shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. This had been done under Obama and earlier presidents, but now it was Trump! And consistent policy!

 

It’s Here! The Smear!

The media—not to mention Hollywood, not to mention politicians local and national—stared star-struck, mesmerized, instantly infatuated—as they comprehended the possibilities. Kids! Babies! Torn from parents! Families! Rent asunder! Kids seized, kidnapped! Incarcerated! Caged! In concentration camps! Death camps!

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” A highly stimulating smear was born. A flaming red smear like a blood-soaked flag sky-written across the heavens!

Many definitions can be found of the term “smear.” Often it is defined simply as an accusation intended to damage someone’s reputation. That leaves open the possibility that the accusation is true and the person’s reputation ought to suffer. For that, “accuse,” “charge,” or “indict” (used non-legally) are perfect synonyms.

The Cambridge Dictionary goes further: “… to publicly accuse someone of something unpleasant, unreasonable, or unlikely to be true in order to harm their reputation …”

Here, intention is emphasized. The intention is to damage reputation. The means is to accuse. The accusation is just “something….” It is not necessary that it be true or stated reasonably. It is necessary that it be “unpleasant.”

Just on the front page of the New York Times, in headlines and in taglines for inside columns, I have seen the terms “kidnapping,” “trafficking,” “Donald Trump’s cages,” “kids in cages,” and terms from “monstrous” to “criminal,” from “wicked” to “evil.”

When hundreds of stories in the same publication report the same tale, and thousands of stories in the media at large report the same tale, and this continues for days and then weeks, are we getting news? Interpretation? Opinion? No, we are playing the smear for all it is worth as the McCarthy era became pervaded by weaponized accusations.

When hundreds of stories in the same publication report the same tale, and thousands of stories in the media at large report the same tale, and this continues for days and then weeks, are we getting news? Interpretation? Opinion? No, we are playing the smear for all it is worth as the McCarthy era became pervaded by weaponized accusations.

And weekly, the “sensation”—meaning both emotional arousal and content exaggeration—escalates.

A commentator compares facilities where children are housed to Nazi death camps. One commentator says Republicans who vote for Trump are Nazis standing at the border assigning family members to their fate. A story compares the immigration policy to internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. The enforcement of the law is called “hostage taking.”

“… unreasonable, unlikely to be true …”

In this case, definitely not true. A Getty photographer’s image goes viral. It shows a little girl put down by her mother, who is being questioned at the border by immigration authorities. The girl is crying. The photographer sexes up his product with a report on his changing emotions as he takes the photograph. He manages to imply the mother and child were separated.

But, he must have meant “separated” when the mother put down the child beside her. It was not clear. When TIME used the photo on its cover, it used it as an example of families separated. Later, it publicly corrected the error. A couple in Texas used the photo in a “don’t separate families” online campaign that raised millions of dollars. Thankfully, the mother and child to this day have not been separated. The father, back in Honduras, says his wife took the child and left without telling him. Immigration officials say she may have put herself and her child in the hands of a criminal trafficking gang to get across the U.S. border.

White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, couldn’t take it: “It’s shameful that dems and the media exploited this photo of a little girl to push their agenda. She was not separated from her mom. The separation here is from the facts. …”

What is her point? Children are separated from their illegally entering parents at the border; thousands of parents (and non-parents) break the law with their children in tow. A court has ruled that children cannot be incarcerated with adults. So thousands of children for days, weeks, or longer are housed in a growing number of temporary facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services as their numbers burgeon.

Ms. Sanders is making the point that media care less about the truth of their reports than the emotional impact, the journalist jihad (if I may risk an exaggeration of my own) against Trump. The photograph is used as a smear: The intention is to attack Trump’s and Republicans’ reputations, the accusation is “… unreasonable, unlikely to be true.”

Commentators have pointed out that separation of illegally entering families at the border was standard long before the current administration. Barack Obama, who used presidential directives when he disliked laws, ordered incarceration of adults with their children. A court over-ruled him. Then, as described earlier, came “catch-and-release,” letting parents and others into the country with just a court summons to hear their case at a later date. As far as media coverage goes, no one cared, back then. But a recent lead editorial in the Times is “How the G.O.P. Built Donald Trump’s Cages.”

 

The Climax in View

And so, we see the necessary next step, the next higher pitch of sensation, and also a clue to the not-very-mysterious libido energy behind the smear campaign. This article began with reference to the upcoming November U.S. mid-term elections. Can the Liberal-Left replace the Republican majority in the House? If so, the path to impeaching the President—top of the Liberal-Left agenda since their shocking humiliation on election eve 2016—is clearer. Stumping Trump policies is easier. Momentum is built for the 2020 Presidential election. The soul of America is redeemed from the “deplorables”—increasingly and casually labeled “fascists,” “Nazis”—who support President Trump.

But the President is not running for re-election this year. The Republican Party is. Thus the precise targeting of the Times smear: It is the Republican Party who “… Built Donald Trump’s Cages.”

But there is perhaps another, more ambitious, longer-term goal. It is the reason the Liberal-Left and, in particular, virtually the entire Democratic Party, has staked so much on the immigration battle—despite polls showing that a majority of Americans support enforcement of immigration law.

In a recent column in the Washington Post, June 18, Max Boot­ speculated on how the 63 million Americans who voted for President Trump could be replaced by Democrats. First, he comes out of the closet about the mechanics of the smear attack:

“… with his barbarous [here is another example for my epithet collection] policy of [enforcing the law by] separating the children of undocumented [illegal]  immigrants from their parents, Trump has finally provided vivid, camera-ready examples of how his policies are destroying the lives of ordinary people. …The suffering of adults — and adult men at that — doesn’t pique popular sympathy the way that the mistreatment of children does.” [My comments in brackets]

He goes on:

“The almost 2,000 kids … warehoused in detention facilities that some [how about you, Mr. Boot?] compare to Nazi concentration camps are not speculative, theoretical victims. They are all too real, and their plight is heart-rending. Finally the impact of Trumpism has a face: that of a 2-year-old Honduran girl [actually, never separated from her mother] who is seen bawling in a photo splashed across the front page of the New York Daily News under the headline: “Callous. Soulless. Craven. Trump.” [My brackets]

But really, the villain is the Republican Party:

“His GOP enablers are so craven, so soulless, so abject in their dishonor that they will allow any amount of human suffering rather than risk suffering the wrath of Trump.”

The politics behind all this is not hard to discern. Here is Boot’s conclusion:

“If only we could keep the hard-working Latin American newcomers and deport the contemptible Republican cowards—that would truly enhance America’s greatness.”

Nor is the reality behind his exciting dream far to seek, although Boot leaves it for others to elaborate.

Look at California. Thanks to the huge Hispanic immigrant population, there is virtually a one-party government, owned by the Democrats. They now can enact into law and enforce all their politically correct ideas—including laws that favor illegal immigrants over law-abiding citizens. Texas may soon follow if immigration trends continue. That will be a two-state “blue tidal wave” to carry any national Democratic candidate to the White House.

The online site “270 to Win” points out that “…growth in the Latino population has helped make California a reliably Democratic state today…” In the seven presidential elections since 1992, California’s 55 electoral votes, the most of any state, have gone to the Democratic candidate by increasingly large margins that have kept pace with immigration. In 2016, California gave Hillary Clinton a whopping 30 percent more of the vote than Donald Trump (61 percent to 25 percent). That is the third consecutive presidential election Democrats have won by more than 60 percent of the vote. This was not always the case: from 1952 through 1988, when Republicans won every presidential election except the landslide loss of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

The same site notes that in Texas, with 38 electoral votes, second only to California: “If demographic trends (e.g., continued rapid growth of Latino population) make the state even remotely competitive, Texas will be one of the major battlegrounds of the next decade.”

There is nothing deterministic about an individual’s country of origin. In every nation, often heroically, against all odds, there are individuals who will arrive at conclusions different, or opposite, from the predominant cultural premises. Liberal-Leftists know that as well as anyone. But they are playing the odds; they are looking at California and recent voting results.

No, of course there is nothing deterministic about an individual’s country of origin. In every nation, often heroically, against all odds, there are individuals who will arrive at conclusions different, or opposite, from the predominant cultural premises. Liberal-Leftists know that as well as anyone. But they are playing the odds; they are looking at California and recent voting results.

And if the political complexion of America comes to approximate that of California, then the 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump, those Hillary Clinton dubbed the “deplorables,” will be the minority and a vanishing breed. In power in Washington, Democrats could fling the border wide open for entry of a vast population of poor, often welfare-state dependent, politically correct Democratic voters.

They would come, most of them, from Latin and South America, where culture, political ideology, and tradition provide little foundation for a limited, constitutional republic with a free-market, capitalist economic system. They would come, in fact, from nations that for decades, sometimes centuries, have maintained failed or semi-failed governments, which keep getting worse. And that, of course, is why they flee in ever-growing numbers across our southern border.

They come drawn to the lingering afterglow of American freedom and prosperity, but some, if not many, with no idea why those life-giving features of American life exist. With no more idea than do Liberal-Leftists why those features cannot continue without strict constitutional limits on government power and without laissez faire economics.

It is precisely a government of increasingly unlimited power—and an economy of increasingly socialistic regulation and taxation—that the Left could achieve with the support of a solid majority blithely unaware they were being used to destroy “the last, best hope of mankind” to which they had flocked.

Perhaps we should just establish a Pulitzer for Yellow Journalism. Like in 1898, today’s yellow journalists have a political objective.

Yellow Journalism, the term used to describe the use of lurid features and sensationalized news in publishing to attract readers, reached its zenith in 1898, when Joseph Pulitzer (of Pulitzer-prize fame) and William Randolph Hearst (“You furnish the pictures, I’ll provide the war!”) are said to have ignited the U.S. war against Spain by twisting the facts around a U.S. ship sunk by its own accident. Today, 120 years on, Hearst and Pulitzer would get a run for their money.

Perhaps we should just establish a Pulitzer for Yellow Journalism. Like in 1898, today’s yellow journalists have a political objective.

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