Back when it was not politically disadvantageous to do so — which is to say when Barack Obama was still president — The Washington Post reported on a study that found that Americans tend to read headlines and not much else. There was no self-recrimination in the article, no pledge by the paper to do more to encourage readers to delve deeper into a story or (perish the though!) read the entire thing.
Little has changed in the world of journalism since that item appeared on March 19, 2014. Major news outlets know that they can count on readers merely to skim, which is why headline writing in the era of Trump has been elevated to a minor art. Take this headline from The New York Times four days ago: “‘There Is a Stench’: Soiled Clothes and No Baths for Migrant Children at a Texas Center.” That’s almost enough to get you to read on, which if you are a Donald Trump detractor — as most Times readers are — you will. And what they will read is as powerful as it is disturbing:
A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.
Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.
Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap.
It is enough to convince the Left that its view of Trump as Donald Hitler is justified. It also explains why a new Gallup poll finds that immigration is now viewed by voters as the number one problem facing the country. But the raw numbers — 32% of Democrats compared with 23% of both Republicans and independents see it as a problem — suggest that the liberal narrative (families are heartlessly being divided and children are being caged or worse) is winning out over the administration’s argument that the system is being overrun by an unprecedented number of illegal aliens.
The Times article pays lip service to this reality, citing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s claim that more than 45,000 people from 52 countries have poured into the state over the past three weeks, but it doesn’t connect the dots. Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier did last night, interviewing acting ICE Director Mark Morgan (starting at 9:00 in the video that follows), who explained that border facilities like the one in Clint, Texas were built to accommodate 100 occupants but are now being forced to house as many as 500. Morgan also mentioned (as did the Times itself on June 9) that the reason for the overcrowded conditions is that Congress has been stalling the administration’s request for $4.5 billion in additional border assistance for more than a month. The bulk of that funding, $3.3 billion, is earmarked for humanitarian aid, including more facilities for migrants, but lawmakers have sat on their thumbs.
Instead of using its bully pulpit to light a fire under Congress, the Times prefers to write scathing editorials like the one that appeared on Monday that began:
From his promise of a “beautiful wall” to his false alarms about caravans of alien marauders at the gate, President Trump has exploited immigration as his marquee issue. He is right, there is a crisis: Not of undocumented immigrants or thousands seeking refuge, as the president would have it, but a crisis of American values, a crisis of America’s premier tradition as a welcoming and humane haven. A crisis Mr. Trump has created. …
The piece is titled “There’s No Excuse for Mistreating Children at the Border. Here’s What To Do About It.” If there is one consolation about spewing propaganda like this it is that the majority of the Times’s readers never got past the headline.