When we last left the ‘Shithole’ scandal, now being cited routinely up and down the news media as proof positive that the President is a racist, we knew the following:
1 Unnamed sources “briefed on” or “familiar with” the President’s meeting with select lawmakers regarding an immigration deal told the Washington Post and others that President Trump “grew frustrated with lawmakers” when he learned that part of the proposed deal protected immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, and said,
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
2. Despite the fact that these “sources” had no direct knowledge of what was said in the meeting they did not attend, the New York Times characterized them as having “direct knowledge,” which was impossible. The news media also represented these accounts based on briefings as fact, with headlines such as the Times’ “Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa.”
3. In a series of tweets, the President denied the characterization of what he had said.
4. Senator Dick Durbin, while not expressly quoting the President, told reporters that Trump had said things “in the course of his comments which were hate-filed, vile and racist,” and added, “I use those word advisedly. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe in the history of the White House in that Oval Office that any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”
5. Nonetheless, the news media, in its subsequent coverage in cable news shows and on the web, treated the claim that Trump had said what the second-hand, anonymous sources had claimed, and used this as a departure point for a general discussion of how racist and vulgar the President was. CNN commentators used the term “shithole” over a hundred times.
6. Websites and blogs with commentators capable of fairness and objectivity, like Ethics Alarms, Althouse, and Powerline, were forced to accept arguendo (I’m sorry, but I love using that word) the anti-Trump narrative’s assumptions in order to point out that calling countries that are, in fact, “shitholes” is not a racist statement about the people in those countries. This, of course, is how Big Lie propaganda works. You have to accept the lie in order to debunk it.
To sum up, then: The news media reported as fact what were in truth disputed comments in a private meeting, and the representation of these as truth solidified during the day and evening, and through yesterday. Now we get headlines like this one, in Entertainment Weekly: “Anderson Cooper chokes up while discussing Trump’s ‘sh–hole’ comment”
Updated Comments and observations:
- This is how false narratives and fake news prevails. It is a fact that nobody knows what was said at the meeting. Oh—I can'[t let the increasingly unprofessional and ridiculous Anderson Cooper‘s performance escape comment. From EW:
“Anderson Cooper held back tears on CNN Thursday while addressing President Donald Trump’s “sh–hole countries” comment about Haiti and some nations in Africa. “Let me be clear tonight,” the CNN host of Anderson Cooper 360 said, “the people of Haiti have been through more — they’ve been through more, they’ve withstood more, they fought back against more injustice than our president ever has.”
What a hack! This is the antithesis of journalism but pure emotionalism and virtue-signalling. It doesn’t enlighten his audience; it misdirects them. How many problems Haiti has had and still has, many of which are its own doing, is irrelevant to the state of the country and the culture, and the kind of reasoning I’d expect from a junior high-schooler in the Peace Club. THIS is CNN.
- Also on CNN, Jake Tapper reported some questions regarding whether the President did use the term in the context reported. Never mind: CNN’s Chris Cuomo brought out a white board and wrote “SHITHOLE” on primetime television, saying,
“We just have to be very clear about what’s going on in the White House, because the president is just showing you who he is. This is who he is, okay? We sum it up in a word, okay? There it is..This is the gift that he decided to give the American people. It’s a bad word, my kids are watching right now. I don’t want to teach my kids and your kids a bad word, our president decided to make that choice.”
It is unbelievable, even for CNN, that Chris Cuomo is still an anchor of a news program and called a journalist. Again, assuming that Trump said what was reported, he said it behind closed doors, under the foolish assumption that he was working with honorable professionals who could be trusted to keep a deliberately private meeting private, as agreed by all participants. Trump didn’t say “shithole” for the American people. Cuomo did! His colleagues did! He misinforms his audience about what allegedly occurs, and as he does it, broadcasts the “bad word” to the any children deranged enough to be watching CNN.
- On its website, CNN pronounced the President as lying in his denials because the President’s statements are infamously unreliable. This is poor logic and incompetent journalism. One cannot assume that a report is fact because the individual denying it has no credibility. Being a mainstream news organization and thus incapable of being fair and balanced, CNN did not mention that Senator Durbin also has a long-standing credibility problem. For example, in October of 2013, Durbin posted on Facebook that a House Republican leader had treated President Barack Obama disrespectfully, by saying to Obama during a negotiation session, “I cannot even stand to look at you.’”
The White House spokesman at the time, Jay Carney, unequivocally stated that Durbin’s account was untrue, stating at his daily briefing with the press:
“I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting, and it did not happen…My understanding is that, again, from a participant in the meeting, that that didn’t happen.”
Based on that, Durbin has a prior record of lying about what was said in private congressional meetings with Presidents to impugn Republicans.
- To be fair, Carney lied all the time in his job, and had no credibility with me. Durbin has always been a hyper-partisan weasel, and nobody denies that Trump just says stuff as the mood strikes hin whether it has any basis in fact or not. That’s the point, however: there is still no ethical basis to conclude that the “shithole’ account is accurate. Those who treat is as fact want to believe it’s fact.
- Yesterday, two Republican Senators who were at the White House meeting, Georgia’s David Perdue and Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, told Laura Ingraham they do not recall Trump making the remark, which was allegedly made to everyone. Does that matter? Does it not matter because they were appearing on Fox? Ingraham brought on former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), now a Fox talking head, to argue that Durbin’s account should be viewed with great skepticism.
“It’s the only thing they have,” said Chaffetz. “Look, there were six members of Congress in that room. There was only one Democrat. And only the Democrat is saying that this happened. And I think it’s highly suspect when Dick Durbin, who has a history of doing this — I mean, he’s used this card on Republicans before and was absolutely wrong.”
A. Chaffetz wasn’t there either, and HE believes what he wants to believe. B. What applies to Trump applies to Durbin. The fact that he has no credibility doesn’t prove that he’s not accurate this time.
- Somebody please explain to left-wing, Media Matters-spawned website NewsHounds (Motto: “We watch Fox so you won’t have to”) why this statement shows they are incompetent to be any kind of watchdog on anything.
“In fact, there are plenty of reasons to believe Durbin’s account. For one thing, he was not alone in saying what happened. The Washington Post, which broke the story, reported “several people briefed on the meeting” confirmed Trump’s remarks about immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. The New York Times wrote about Trump’s remarks, “according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.”
- One more note on Durbin, which will eventually segue into a larger post. Durbin, in full weasel mode, said this, you will recall:
“But I cannot believe in the history of the White House in that Oval Office that any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”
Thus the Illinois Senator snuck in a “resistance” staple and talking point, and no, I don’t believe for a second that this was accidental. I bet that there are reminders in print to all Democrats to flog this theme at every opportunity. You see, Trump is different. He isn’t like a normal President. He doesn’t deserve, therefore, to be treated like a normal President. This justifies the anti-democratic effort by the Democratic Party to undermine him and his office as long as he is in it. The new book by the two Harvard Professors I mentioned in item #1 here was designed as a partisan weapon to further this narrative. The theme of “How Democracies Die” is that President Trump, unique among Presidents, is defying crucial “norms.”
I will elaborate of the dishonesty of that thesis in a later post; this one is too long already.
The contention that Trump is uniquely vulgar or politically incorrect in private meetings, however, is nonsense, and Durbin knows his history well enough to realize it. The Nixon tapes alone disprove Durbin’s statement, and spectacularly so. Mark Tapscott did a neat retrospective of Presidential vulgarity, profanity and worse, and interestingly concludes that Bill Clinton was the most modern vulgar President.
What a surprise.