This is how the lead story in today’s Washington Post begins:
President Trump on Monday defended his racist remarks about four minority lawmakers by alleging that they “hate our country” and should leave if they if they are unhappy. . . .
Trump’s remarks about the four were misinformed and unseemly, coming from a president, but they are not racist. Trump didn’t suggest that the four congressional rads leave America because of their race or national origin. He offered the suggestion because of their hatred, as he sees it (and I do too), for America.
This couldn’t be clearer. There are other “minority lawmakers” who oppose Trump’s policies. He did not suggest, and has never suggested, that they leave America.
The Post’s lead story is by Ashley Parker, Rachael Bade, and John Wagner, with “contributions” from Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sommez. It comes in at about three dozen paragraphs. A competent lefty blogger could have cranked it out, solo, in about an hour.
Which of the three authors wrote that Trump’s remarks are “racist”? We don’t know.* The Post likes it that way. The less accountability, the better for the “Democracy dies in darkness” crew.
The Parker-Bade-Wagner story isn’t the Post’s only attempt to smear Trump and the GOP over his comments about the four rads. The front page also features a tut-tutting article about how “Republicans [and] business ranks appear to shrug off [Trump’s] remarks.” (quotation from the headline in the paper edition)
Well, they aren’t trying to build a religion around them, as the Post wants to. Nor should they be.
On the inside pages, we’re treated to a reminder that “go home” has “long been flung at U.S. immigrants.” But Trump didn’t direct his “go home” statement at immigrants. He directed it at four public figures who, in his view (and mine) hate America. Only one of them is an immigrant.
Trump’s statement isn’t from the anti-immigrant playbook. It’s from the “America, love it or leave it” playbook.
This doesn’t mean his statement was appropriate, coming from the American president, but it does mean it wasn’t anti-immigrant. Trump is fine with immigrants as long as (1) they are here legally and (2) they don’t hate America. And only if the former condition isn’t met does he favor deportation.
There’s more from the Post. Sommez and Bade team up to write a puff piece about the four rads that again accuses Trump of racism in the opening paragraph. They write:
After being targeted by President Trump with racist tweets — following days of scolding from their own party leaders — four Democratic congresswomen chose to stand together before the cameras and defend their vision for their country.
Sommez and Bade decline to describe that vision in anything much more specific than “this land is your land, this land is my land.” It’s clear, though, from the past utterances of the four rads that America as it exists is so far from their “vision” for it — in terms of both foreign and domestic policy — that Trump reasonably inferred that they hate America as it is.
Naturally, the Post’s editorial and op-ed pages weigh in. Its lead editorial and two of its four op-eds duly condemn Trump’s remarks. (A third op-ed is an anti-Trump screed from Michael Gerson which finds, for the gazillionith time, that Trump doesn’t measure up to Gerson’s view of Christianity).
That’s fine. These are the places where opinions, however predictable and poorly argued, are supposed to be expressed.
George Conway gets into the act. He says he denied that Trump was a racist, but not anymore — not after the president’s attack on the four rads. Conway doesn’t make an argument, though (biographical claims about “conversion” aren’t arguments). Instead, he spends several paragraphs talking about his life story (he’s the son of woman from the Philippines) and then simply declares Trump’s statement about the four rads “racist to the core.”
The Post may believe, as John does, that Trump’s comments are an error of epic proportions. Or it may simply want to run the “racism” charge up the flagpole once again and see if anyone new salutes.
Either way, its echo-chamber coverage of Trump’s remarks falls well short of the standards that used to apply to journalism.