Yesterday morning I asked:
Will the Media Fall For Trump’s 14th Amendment Stunt?
More than 24 hours have now passed, which means I can render a judgment: they did not just “fall for it,” they morphed into an army of unflagging zombies who cared about nothing except ravaging the countryside for victims who would comment on the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment. Go see World War Z if you want to get the general gist of things:
But as the pitch guys say on TV, there’s more! I didn’t know this when I wrote my post yesterday, but Donald Trump himself didn’t even bring up the subject of birthright citizenship. It turns out that Jonathan Swan of Axios was interviewing Trump and decided to bring up the subject out of nowhere. Why? God knows. But after Trump blathered about it for a bit without actually committing to anything, Swan asked when it would happen. “It’s in the process,” Trump said. “It’ll happen.”
Everyone on the planet knows that this is Trumpspeak for “No one is working on it and I haven’t thought about it for a long time.”
But it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that everyone knows Trump can’t overturn birthright citizenship with an executive order anyway. Coverage was everywhere. Panels were hastily convened on cable TV. Learned academics wrote op-eds for the New York Times. Lawyers weighed in for the Washington Post. The usual suspects threw chaff in the air by insisting that it was an open question whether the 14th Amendment could be repealed by Trump’s signature. It was on the home page of every newspaper, every blog, every cable net.
In short, it was insane. It started with a reporter who thought he was being clever and ended up with the collective might of America’s news media weighing in on a topic with less actual substance than Kim Kardashian. Is the entire industry embarrassed by how they handled this yesterday? I guess there’s no telling. But they should be.