The president, via social media, is threatening millions of immigrant families with deportation, and media outlets are breathlessly repeating his tweets and anonymous screeds from his deputies as news. This is not how reporting should work.
- ABC News quoted Trump’s Monday night tweets in its headline and went on to quote an anonymous official giving copious amounts of opinion, rather than fact. Retweets DO equal endorsements, Justin Doom. Let @JustinDoom know that this is not how it’s done.
- The Hill gave POTUS the same favor of a retweet in the headline, in the lead, and went a step further, making a video of a reporter straight up reading the tweets. Retweets DO equal endorsements, Zack Budryk. Let @BudrykZack know this is not how it’s done.
- NPR put it together that the deportation tweets were likely part of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. But then, at the top of its story, NPR quoted an anti-immigrant hate group for confirmation. So, tell NPR and its new immigration correspondent, Franco Ordoñez, to stop citing hate groups!
- Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti actually report some news in their Washington Post story — the Department of Homeland Security has been planning a mass deportation operation for months — but the headline is still essentially a Trump retweet. Tell the Post that retweets DO equal endorsements.
The Associated Press story at least conveys that the president’s tweets were a threat, not a policy proclamation, and ties the threats to today’s campaign announcement. And CNN acknowledges that the tweets were vague, devoid of details, and countered by some local officials.
Some tips for media outlets covering immigration:
- Consult the people actually affected.
None of these stories contain reaction from the people actually affected, the millions of immigrant families who are being threatened. When the government threatens a significant portion of the American public, it is incumbent on the media to seek comment and reaction from the people affected.
- Seek comment from opposition figures.
Only CNN mentions Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, but they cite her actions to subvert deportation in her city from a year ago rather than asking her for comment on the latest threats. Multiple candidates for president, immigrant advocacy groups, business, and religious figures all have lots to say about Trump’s anti-immigrant threats. Call them.
- Avoid anonymous comments, especially when it’s pure speculation or opinion.
The anonymous administration official that several media outlets cite does not add to this story, and this person does not deserve the protection of anonymity. This is pure propaganda.
- Don’t cite hate groups.
The Center for Immigration Studies has a 34-year track record of trying to end immigration to the U.S. using white nationalist rhetoric, publishing falsified or trumped up research, and working with extremist anti-immigrant politicians. It is neither a think tank nor a “non-profit organization that favors limiting immigration,” as many media outlets dub them. Stop quoting them. And if you are going to quote them, explain their real political aims and their significant ties to the Trump administration.