Congrats to the entire news media for getting yet another story wrong about President Trump.
The news of how the president supposedly “ordered” the military to shoot any migrants who throw rocks spread through social media like wildfire, with all the usual “Resistance” types losing their minds as if they had caught the president committing murder.
Except it was all based on a lie. A lie of omission, but a lie nonetheless.
Here is what the president actually said:
“They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. I told them to consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like what they did to the Mexican military and police I say consider it a rifle.”
Now, even if you want to say he was talking about using lethal force, at most he was making a suggestion, not giving an order.
Not that it matters, because these soldiers cannot use force or arrest anybody — something the president mistakenly claimed they could do yesterday — which is made abundantly clear in the Posse Comitatus Act:
Sec. 15. From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress.
In other words, the military has no authority to arrest or use force in cases such as these and is there merely to lend tactical support to DHS and police.
Not that you would now any of this from the breathless wall to wall coverage on the issue, because the media would rather scare you half to death than inform you on what is actually happening.
Of course, nobody even bothered to bring these issues up to the president or ask him about the rules of engagement, which would seem to be a reporter’s job in this circumstance.
And granted, President Trump should know about Posse Comitatus and the rules of engagement, but it would be nice if we had reporters who were knowledgeable enough and/or not ridiculously agenda-driven so that they would focus on holding the president’s feet to the fire on his ignorance of the issue rather than generating outrage views/clicks.
But that is not the media we have.
Instead, we have a media that by and large looks for the most salacious angle it can take, which far too often leads to misleading or outright false stories being reported.
Unfortunately, we have seen many cases of this during the Trump presidency
For example, last year, a story circulated that Orrin Hatch had said on the Senate floor that CHIP — the health insurance program for low income children — needed to go because he was tired of funding programs for people who refused to help themselves.
Except as even Ezra Klein of Vox — who is no fan of Republicans — pointed out, Hatch was not talking about CHIP when he made those comments and even said he would see to it that CHIP got funded.
But do not tell that to all the people making fun of Hatch for disparaging “free loading” children.
There are many more recent examples of this, but you get the point.
I understand the media honestly gets stories wrong sometimes — we are all human. But when you report stories like this and get them wrong — repeatedly — it damages the media’s credibility in a significant way. Major news outlets have to do better than this and those who follow their lead do, too.
The social media age has certainly made things worse. In the old days, a news story would not be instant because you were waiting to air it on the 6PM news, or if you were a newspaper, get it into tomorrow’s edition.
Gotta get it out there first and break the scoop on social media.
Need to run with the craziest possible interpretation of the story to draw eyes and ears rather than properly reporting the reality of what is occurring.
Nuance and thorough checking be damned.
Like it or not, this is why it is easy for so many people to believe President Trump when he points at certain news outlets and yells “Fake News!”
Put simply, the media has to be better than this. We need to know that outside of some rare mistakes, reporters and publications — at least ones that don’t claim to purposely push a specific point of view — are generally on the level when they break a story.
These kind of major mistakes and intentionally misleading actively keep that from happening.
Trust is a key component of any news/viewer relationship. Without it, the viewer may as well be watching an episode of Jerry Springer.
And entertaining as Mr. Springer’s show is, it is not news.
But then again, neither is what we are seeing reported as news now.