The Washington Post owes Biden an apology

Border hysteria

  
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One month after falsely blaming the Biden administration for creating a crisis at the southern border, the Washington Post remains oddly reserved regarding good news about the plummeting number of migrant youths now held in U.S. detention centers. The Post for months led the media charge with nonstop, negative coverage about the surge; coverage that often mimics GOP talking points.

But now as conditions at the border improve, much of the media, including the Post, are suddenly less interested in the immigration story.

The good news came on Thursday when CNN published a scoop detailing how the number of unaccompanied children held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official, underscoring the significant progress made by the administration after reaching record high custody figures." The CNN report quoted an official who spoke anonymously.

The decline was mostly because the Department of Health and Human Services has opened up a string of temporary shelters to accommodate minors. "That's allowed for an increasing number of children being transferred out of border facilities to spaces equipped to care for them at a quicker pace," CNN reported.

The New York Times soon confirmed the "80 percent drop over the past month in the number of migrant children in Border Patrol custody," and quoted Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

As of Sunday night, a check of Google and of the Post's archives uncovers no stand-alone reports in recent days regarding "detentions" at the border, or any dispatches quoting Mayorkas about the extreme decline.

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In March, the Post considered the number of unaccompanied migrant teens and children in detention cells to be a very big deal. In fact, they reflected "the magnitude of the crisis" Biden faced. Today, the Post considers the plummeting number of migrant teens and children in detention cells to be less newsworthy. On April 23, the Post published just a single sentence about how the administration had reduced, “by more than half the number of unaccompanied teens and children held in dangerously overcrowded Border Patrol stations and tent facilities.”

The relative silence is telling considering the Post for months has been committed to breathless border coverage. Leaning heavily into conservative talking points about how the border surge was threatening to sink Biden's entire presidency, the Post over and over posted doomsday headlines:

• "Biden administration rushes to accommodate border surge, with few signs of plans to contain it"

• "Biden officials fall behind in race to add more shelter space for migrant teens and children"

• "Biden faces growing political threat from border upheaval"

• "‘No end in sight’: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge"

• "At the border, a widely predicted crisis that caught Biden off guard"

That final headline was published just days ago. Meaning, the Post is still pushing the bogus narrative that Biden badly bungled the border and created the "crisis."

Five weeks ago, the Post uncorked a finger-pointing, front-page piece designed to portray the White House as standing on the brink of a defining and fatal failure. The article was drenched in politics instead of policy — "Republicans are reveling in the administration’s border problems.” The piece stressed the issue of immigration could be a loser for Democrats — it could cost them the House in 2022! — and even "overshadow" the administration's success in vaccinating tens of millions of Americans in recent week.

The Post's GOP-friendly report also included no context for how Biden's new administration had been addressing border crossings while at the same dealing with the aftermath of a deadly insurrection, an impeachment trial, rolling out an unprecedented, nationwide vaccination regime, and passing the largest social spending bill in U.S. history by a single vote in the Senate.

If the Biden administration were to blame for the migrant crisis, if its missteps were the reason for the rising number of border detentions, as the Post insisted in March, doesn't it stand that the Biden administration deserves credit for the sweeping reduction at the border that’s now unfolding? Or does the Post only consider bad news for the White House to be real news? The Post literally ran a border detention story that included this quote in the headline: "No End in Sight." Now, according to the last figures, there is end is sight.

The paper has hardly been alone in echoing apocalyptic GOP rhetoric about the border this year. In a highly unusual move, ABC This Week in late March staged its entire Sunday program from the border in order to focus on the "emerging crisis for the Biden administration." During the president's inaugural press conference that month, he was peppered with questions about the border (a topic the GOP was pushing), and was not asked a single question about Covid-19 (a topic the GOP was not).

In terms of the amount of border news coverage this year, it's been eye-popping, as the press continues to take its cues from Republicans. During Biden's first nine weeks in office, immigration was the third most-common topic of new coverage, according to a new Pew study — and that coverage was overwhelmingly negative. That volume of immigration coverage is especially startling considering the topic didn't really gain traction until six weeks into Biden's presidency. Then the media avalanche arrived.

The press and the GOP helped create the border "crisis" this year. Now they need to acknowledge reality.

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(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

📺 GOOD STUFF:

A bit ironic — after detailing how the Post needs to apologize to Biden for its dubious border coverage, I’m promoting a compelling piece in the Post. But that’s how most news outlets operate; some good, some bad. We shouldn’t be afraid to criticize and praise both.

The good one is the latest from Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, “The Politicians Who Tried to Overturn an Election — And the Local News Team That Won’t Let Anyone Forget It”:

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago. They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

In late January, the station — whose newsroom includes six reporters and two editors — posted an explanatory story stating that they would be regularly reminding their audience that some state legislators signed a letter urging Congress to vote against certifying the Pennsylvania election results, and that some members of Congress had voted against certifying the state’s election results for President Biden, despite no evidence to support their election-fraud claims.

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