Media Distort Trump Decrying Illegal Gang ‘Animals’ Into Attack on ‘Undocumented Immigrants’

ABC, MSNBC, The New York Times, and other media outlets on Wednesday and Thursday distorted Donald Trump’s attack on MS-13, the brutal gang of illegal criminals, into a slur on “undocumented immigrants.” On MSNBC, the network graphic misled: “Trump Calls Some Undocumented Immigrants ‘Animals’ in Rant.” 

The New York Times on Wednesday pushed the disingenuous narrative that the President was simply talking about the “undocumented”: 

 

 

New York Times journalist Julie Davis actually got it right when she explained in a tweet on her profile that Trump was referring to “dangerous criminals.” Yet, The Times hasn’t taken down the original, very misleading tweet.  

 

 

On Thursday morning's MSNBC Live, host Stephanie Ruhle attempted to push this inaccurate talking point. She played the clip of Trump saying: “These aren't people. These are animals.” Former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner corrected her and the on-screen MSNBC graphic: 

MSNBC GRAPHIC: Trump Calls Some Undocumented Immigrants “Animals” in Rant

PETER WEHNER: I do want to say to be fair to Trump he was referring to gang members MS-13 and not just undocumented immigrants. And that’s an important distinction. 

Again, Wehner is correct. Trump’s comments came as he was talking to law enforcement officials at the White House. Fresno County, California Sheriff Margaret Mims told the President of the difficulty of going after illegal gang members. She explained: “There can be an MS-13 gang member I know about. If they don’t reach a certain threshold, I can’t tell ICE about it.” 

Trump’s “animals” response came IMMEDIATELY after this. The New York Daily News distorted the comments with this headline: “Trump Hurls Hate at Immigrants.” Not MS-13 or illegal criminals. Immigrants. 

At 10:47 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson obliviously commented on the confusion: 

But it's the President who is dominating the headlines on the topic [of immigration] after he referred to some undocumented immigrants as animals. We’re going to give you the key context you may have missed.  

Hmm, how could viewers have “missed” the context? Later, after some commercials, Jackson sort of got around to explaining the reality: 

President Trump there referring to some undocumented immigrants as animals in a roundtable at the White House. But here's the context you need to know about. It came after one sheriff complaining about hot being able to get rid of gangs and MS-13. That was the backdrop of the conversation and this was not the first time the President has referred to MS-13 as animals. 

Notice that, according to the MSNBC host, Trump was still talking about “undocumented immigrants.” Yet, Jackson admitted the President explicitly singled out MS-13.

On Good Morning America, Thursday, reporter Cecilia Vega chided: “I got to say immigrant communities hear this as a dog whistle and say this is downright dangerous language.” She blamed Trump for not being precise: “The President didn't make it clear whether he was talking about gang members or about immigrants in general.” 

AP on Thursday finally issued a correction: 

 

  

 

After over 12 hours of distorting the comments, it’s a little late. Finally, it won’t shock many to know that some in the media blamed Trump for journalists getting the remarks wrong. Here's what Politico Magazine’s Tim Alberta insisted: 

 

 

Partial transcripts are below. Click expand for more. 

Good Morning America 
5/17/18
7:09:58

ABC GRAPHIC: Trump’s “Animals” Comments Sparks Backlash: Anger After President Unleashes Tirade About Gangs 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Also, Cecilia, yesterday the President with some more inflammatory comments on immigration. Want to listen. 

DONALD TRUMP: We have people coming into the country, trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them. But we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals. 

CECILIA VEGA: “These aren't people, these are animals.” So that was during a White House meeting on sanctuary cities. The comment came after someone remarked about MS-13 gang members. The President didn't make it clear whether he was talking about gang members or about immigrants in general, though his son Don Jr. Was on Twitter saying this was specific to MS-13. California’s Governor is blasting the president saying he's lying on immigration. Lying on crime. George, I got to say immigrant communities hear this as a dog whistle and say this is downright dangerous language. 

MSNBC Live
5/17/18
9:59am

STEPHANIE RUHLE: I want to share yesterday what Trump said yesterday talking about sanctuary cities in California. 

DONALD TRUMP: We have people coming into the country, trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them. But we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals. 

RUHLE: “These are animals.”  

MSNBC GRAPHIC: Trump Calls Some Undocumented Immigrants “Animals” in Rant

PETER WEHNER (Former George W. Bush speechwriter): Yeah. Look, I do want to say to be fair to Trump he was referring to gang members M-13 and not just undocumented immigrants. And that’s an important distinction. 

... 

MSNBC Live 

10:47am tease

HALLIE JACKSON: The House is trying to move forward with this bipartisan immigration plan. They are trying to force a vote on this. But it's the President who is dominating the headlines on the topic after he referred to some undocumented immigrants as animals. We’re going to give you the key context you may have missed. 

10:51

TRUMP: We have people coming into the country, trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them. But we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals. 

JACKSON: President Trump there referring to some undocumented immigrants as animals in a round table at the White House. But here's the context you need to know about. It came after one sheriff complaining about hot being able to get rid of gangs and MS-13. That was the backdrop of the conversation and this was not the first time the President has referred to MS-13 as animals.
 


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