I realize it’s only March, but it will be hard to top this one. Not that the Times and the Post won’t give it the old college try, but really, how do you mislead your readers any more blatantly than this?
A Democrat member of Congress utters a series of baldly anti-Semitic tropes, upsetting members of her own party along with most Jewish people in America. A rare movement begins within the Democratic Party to do the right thing for once and declare, unequivocally, that there is no room for anti-Semitism in America.
But the radical left-wing backbenchers in the House don’t want to say that. Ilhan Omar is one of theirs, and unless the resolution is watered down into a general (and thus meaningless) condemnation of all “hate,” which lets Omar completely off the hook for what she did to start this whole thing, it’s a no-go.
So the Democrats cave, and President Trump rips them for taking the coward’s way out and refusing to offer a serious condemnation of anti-Semitism.
How does USA Today headline that? Like this:
President Donald Trump described the Democratic Party as an “anti-Israel party” and an “anti-Jewish party” on Friday and said a House vote condemning hate but not specifically denouncing the remarks of one of its members was “disgraceful.”
The president, speaking at the White House before departing for Alabama, was responding to a question about a vote in the House Thursday to condemn hate after freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, made comments critical of Israel that detractors said played to anti-Semitic tropes
“I thought yesterday’s vote by the House was disgrace,” said Trump, who will meet with officials in Alabama on Friday who are working on recovery efforts following last weekend’s deadly tornado.
The House resolution drew criticism from some after it was broadened from its original version, which focused solely on denouncing anti-Semitism, to condemning other forms of bigotry against minorities. The resolution passed 407 to 23.
The actual story was reasonably straight and factual, but apparently whoever writes the headlines at USA Today couldn’t bear the thought that readers might think Donald Trump stood up against anti-Semitism and Democrats refused to do so. That was simply too much narrative-busting for someone.
So instead you’re left with the impression that Trump denounced House Democrats in the service of defending hate.
There is a phenomenon in this country we might call the “I always hear” phenomenon. It works like this:
Average Joe thinks Donald Trump is a racist. What gave him that idea? “Well, I always hear what a racist he is.”
Average Joe cannot cite an actual facts that demonstrate Donald Trump is a racist. He is not able to discuss Trump’s positions or attitudes on race with any specificity or first-hand knowledge. He doesn’t really know anything about how Trump’s policies affect various respective racial groups.
But Trump is a racist to Average Joe because he always hears that everywhere!
And one of the places where he hears it is in dishonest headlines like this one from USA Today, on a story that actually demonstrates the opposite is true.
There’s an awful lot in this country that people simply figure is true because they always hear it, regardless of whether they know anything at all, because they always hear it from people who always say it – even if it’s a total lie.