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“Did you see that horrible story about the abused dog?” My better half poses that question (or one like it) at least once a week. My response is always, “no, I didn’t and please don’t tell me about it!” Then she tells me about it.
My job requires following the news, but if pets, kids, or the elderly are harmed, I want to avoid it entirely. The political world has enough stories to anger me; I don’t need my rage further stoked by some jerk across town who’s whipping Fido with a stick.
That brings me to kids in cages.
For the past week-plus, social media has been awash with children of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers being wrenched from their parents and shipped to detention centers before getting a one-way ticket home. Images of sobbing toddlers, screaming parents, and kids in cages (some of whom were detained by Obama, but, no matter) are everywhere.
I’ve read articles about the problem, but have studiously avoided the emotion-drenched videos and photo galleries that accompany them. To date, I assumed that was due to my “abused innocent” rule, but I think something else is at play.
Today, the media is giving apocalyptic coverage to family separations at the border. Trump is compared to Hitler, he’s a madman leading us to war, and Obama-era policies are blamed on the current administration. It all seems too familiar. In just the past two months:
- Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un normalized a savage despot and endorsed his concentration camps.
- Trump criticizing Canada shows he is destroying our strongest alliances, which could lead us to war.
- Melania is missing! Trump must have abused her.
- Trump refuses to ban guns, despite the shooting at Santa Fe High School. The blood is on his hands.
- Trump cancels summit with North Korea, which will lead us to nuclear war.
- Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, causing the peaceful residents of Gaza to riot protest. This will lead to war.
- Trump withdraws from Iranian nuclear deal, which will lead us to nuclear holocaust.
- Trump tells Honduran caravan they won’t be allowed into the US. What a Nazi.
- More post-hurricane problems in Puerto Rico, meaning Trump hates brown people. Did we mention he’s a Nazi?
- Trump orders airstrikes on Syria, which will lead us to war. Just like Hitler.
Again, these apocalyptic media panics are just from the past 60 days. Every week the world is ending for a different reason; all of them are Trump’s fault.
I want our immigration laws enforced. That doesn’t mean we should add the counterproductive cruelty of separating families when it can be avoided. Politely drop them back on the other side of the border and tell them to sign the guestbook on the way in. We have immigration processes and a nation without borders is a nation no more. None of that requires the emotional abuse of children.
But if the media actually care about this issue as something more than the Cudgel of the Week, they shouldn’t drop it into the same template as every other Trump critique. When everything is an outrage, nothing is. Voters and viewers are tuning out.
Look at the Russia! Russia! Russia! coverage over the past year. Monmouth University released a poll Monday, showing the public’s views of the Mueller investigation. I delved into the data and made a chart of the trendline.
A year ago, 74 percent thought the investigation should continue. After 12 straight months of Russia hysteria, it should be much higher, right? Wrong; only 52 percent think it should continue. That’s only a seven-point spread from those who want it ended. By the midterms, the lines may have crossed. The American people are outraged out.
Complaining about media bias is tedious if it becomes simple whining. At this point, however, the media is hurting not only itself but the Democrats’ chances in November. Trump might end up reversing his bad policy of family separation, but if the media doesn’t reverse their bad policies, they’ll be covering Trump in a second term.
A few stories need to be cranked to 11. All of them do not.
One final note: Following a week of this current outrage, Trump’s approval ratings have returned to their highest level ever.