The Media Is Repeating Trump’s Lies About Birthright Citizenship

While an Axios reporter appears visibly thrilled with having goaded Trump into an explosive, anti-immigrant quote.

Chris Kleponis/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

On Tuesday, Axios released the first clip of its upcoming four-part HBO series, which featured President Donald Trump floating the possibility of ending birthright citizenship for babies of non-US citizens and undocumented immigrants, a constitutional right enshrined in the 14th Amendment. 

“Some legal scholars believe you can get rid of birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution,” reporter Jonathan Swan asserts to Trump in the interview. Trump then interrupts to finish Swan’s thoughts, “with an executive order.”

“Exactly!” he replies, appearing visibly thrilled with the prospect of having goaded Trump into an explosive, anti-immigrant quote. “Tell me more!” Swan encourages the president.

As the clip continues, Trump goes on to incorrectly complain that the United States was the only country in the world to offer birthright citizenship. In reality, at least 30 countries worldwide offer it. According to Trump, though, that right has unfairly provided benefits to people he apparently believes are undeserving of them. “It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous,” he says. “And it has to end.”

The interview continues, but Swan doesn’t counter the president’s blatant falsehood. It was then breathlessly repeated in headlines without qualification or mention that the proposal is likely unconstitutional. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As many noted the dangers of failing to fact-check the president, Axios eventually added a note to the clip’s corresponding post. The Associated Press also deleted its tweet reiterating Trump’s remarks without context.

While Trump probably lacks the legal authority to carry out his supposed plans for an executive order, the mere raising of its possibility has likely already accomplished what the Trump administration has often sought to do with such issues, and that is to threaten his targets with fear-mongering rhetoric while at the same time fomenting his base. Trump has escalated those tactics in the final push ahead of the midterms, and his latest threat of an executive order fits right into the pattern.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate