New York Times Panics on Front Page Over Trump’s Painless Jaunt to Mexico

September 1st, 2016 2:29 PM

The New York Times absolutely hated Donald Trump’s relatively successful (or at least gaffe-free) stop in Mexico to meet with its president, and the paper took its slightly panicky hostility out on President Enrique Peña Nieto in Thursday A1, two lead stories under the banner headline “Mexican Leader Disputes Trump On Border Wall.”

Patrick Healy shared the top slot over a headline that used Mexico's President Peña Nieto to bash Trump, who used his "usual bullying tone" when he got back from Mexico, while Azam Ahmed and Elizabeth Malkin reported with snark from Mexico City: “Invitation Is Viewed as ‘Historic Error.’” (One guy said it, so it must be true):

If President Enrique Peña Nieto invited Donald J. Trump to visit Mexico for a dialogue in the interest of democracy, the message has fallen on deaf ears.

Instead, the predominant feeling here in the Mexican capital is one of betrayal.

“It’s a historic error,” said Enrique Krauze, a well-known historian. “You confront tyrants. You don’t appease them.”

On Mexico’s most popular morning television show on Wednesday, a livid Mr. Krauze likened the president’s meeting with Mr. Trump to the decision by Neville Chamberlain, then the British prime minister, to sit down with Hitler in Munich in 1938.

“It isn’t brave to meet in private with somebody who has insulted and denigrated” Mexicans, Mr. Krauze said. “It isn’t dignified to simply have a dialogue.”


Donald J. Trump delivered a speech in Phoenix on Wednesday that was expected to clarify his shifting stance on hard-line immigration policies, following a trip to Mexico to speak with President Enrique Peña Nieto.

But for many Mexicans, the surprising invitation from Mr. Peña Nieto -- who has likened Mr. Trump’s language to that of Hitler and Mussolini in the past -- is even worse.

Newspapers, television stations, social media and all manner of national communications were awash in vitriol at the idea of a meeting between the two men, while political analysts on both sides of the border said they were mystified about why Mr. Peña Nieto invited Mr. Trump.


While Mr. Trump hardly offered Mexicans the sort of apology many had hoped for, he was a far more chastened candidate than they had come to expect. He repeatedly lauded their hard work, and spoke of his “tremendous feeling” for Mexicans. “They are amazing people,” he noted.


Other critics were less kind.

“To put it mildly, I think it was the biggest humiliation a Mexican president has suffered on his own territory in the last 50 years,” said Esteban Illades, editor of Nexos, a magazine in Mexico. “He not only managed to make Donald Trump look presidential, which is an incredibly hard thing to do, he managed to forgive Donald Trump even though he didn’t actually offer an apology in the first place.”

Patrick Healy shared the top slot in Thursday’s edition over a headline that used Mexico's President Peña Nieto to bash Trump, who used his "usual bullying tone" when he got back from Mexico: “Says He Made Clear Nation Won’t Pay.

Donald J. Trump made an audacious attempt on Wednesday to remake his image on the divisive issue of immigration, shelving his plan to deport 11 million undocumented people and arguing that a Trump administration and Mexico would secure the border together.

In a spirited bid for undecided American voters to see him anew, Mr. Trump swept into Mexico City to make overtures to a nation he has repeatedly denigrated, then flew to Phoenix to outline in his usual bullying tone his latest priorities on immigration.

Yet the juxtaposition of Mr. Trump’s dual performances was so jarring that his true vision and intentions on immigration were hard to discern. He displayed an almost unrecognizable demeanor during his afternoon in Mexico, appearing measured and diplomatic, while hours later he took the stage at his campaign rally and denounced illegal immigrants on the whole as a criminally minded and dangerous group that sows terror in communities and commits murders, rapes and other heinous violence.


Deporting all illegal immigrants had been his signature political issue for much of the presidential race, but his caustic tone and harsh approach has turned off many Republicans and independents, particularly women. His language was still fiery in Phoenix, yet he also said that the fate of most illegal immigrants would be handled humanely, and not right away.


On a more personal level, Mr. Trump also wanted to show undecided voters that he had the temperament and self-control of a statesman -- qualities that many doubt he has -- and also demonstrate that Americans did not need to worry every time he opened his mouth in a foreign country. He also hoped to show that he could acquit himself well on the world stage, something that is a clear strength of Mrs. Clinton, a former secretary of state, senator and first lady.

Healy admitted that “Trump...made no obvious mistakes during his trip to Mexico, nor did he breach any protocol during his public appearance with Mr. Peña Nieto on a small stage at the presidential palace.”

The Times lead editorial, “Mr. Trump Plays Mexico,” also showed hostility to Peña Nieto for daring to meet with the Republican nominee for president.

It’s ridiculous that Donald Trump’s immigration proposals -- not so much a policy as empty words strung together and repeated -- should have propelled him as far as they have. This confounding situation hit peak absurdity on Wednesday.

It started with Mr. Trump’s meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, in Mexico City. It was surreal because Mr. Trump has spent his entire campaign painting Mexico as a nation of rapists, drug smugglers and trade hustlers who would have to pay for the 2,000-mile border wall that Mr. Trump was going to build. But instead of chastising Mr. Trump, Mr. Peña Nieto treated him like a visiting head of state at a news conference, with side-by-side lecterns and words of deferential mush.


The speech was a reverie of immigrant-fearing, police-state bluster, with Mr. Trump gushing about building “an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” assailing “media elites” and listing his various notions for thwarting evil foreigners. He said the immigration force might deport Hillary Clinton.

Of course, the Times is all in on “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.