At the Times, Goofus tells colorful tale: Candidate Trump's late-night immigration speech pushed up against many newspapers' hard-copy deadlines. This circumstance helps us consider two styles of "news reporting."
The Washington Post didn't get a report about the speech into this morning's hard-copy editions. Instead, they settled for a report about Trump's Mexico City visit.
The Phoenix speech was AWOL from the hard-copy Post. But when Jose delReal's report appeared on-line, it was perhaps worth the wait:
DELREAL (9/1/16): Donald Trump’s latest deportation priorities could target more than 6 million individuals for immediate removal, according to a Washington Post analysis. If elected president, he said Wednesday, his administration would also seek to bolster staff devoted to immigration enforcement.By contemporary norms, that's basic news reporting. At the start of his report, DelReal presented a welter of basic facts about what Candidate Trump had actually said in his actual speech.
After weeks of opaque public statements regarding his stance on mass deportations, Trump spelled out hard-line immigration priorities in a fiery speech here in Phoenix. He not only called for removing all undocumented immigrants who had committed crimes, but he also said he would prioritize for deportation those who have overstayed their visas.
The GOP presidential nominee also said he would triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and create a “new special deportation task force” to track the most serious security threats.
Together, those proposals represented his most specific comments on deportation policy—and they pointed to a massive undertaking.
At the New York Times, Patrick Healy took a different route. He rushed a highly interpretative piece into print, first on-line, then in hard-copy editions. The story-telling was exciting, but major corrections and changes followed.
(For TPM's report on the instant major changes, just click here. The New York Times seems to do this sort of thing more and more of the time.)
Below, you see how Healy's report began in the Times' hard-copy final edition. Healy provides a lot of novelistic brio, and a lot of confusion to boot. Don't breathe the gorilla dust!
HEALY (9/1/16): Donald J. Trump made an audacious attempt on Wednesday to remake his image on the divisive issue of immigration, shelving his plan to deport 11 million undocumented people and arguing that a Trump administration and Mexico would secure the border together.DelReal began with an attempt at a basic fact; Healy began with a statement of opinion about Trump's presumed motives. (In paragraph 4, we got a statement of opinion about his advisers' motives.) Healy presented novelistic color and lots of opinion, but not a great deal more.
In a spirited bid for undecided American voters to see him anew, Mr. Trump swept into Mexico City to make overtures to a nation he has repeatedly denigrated, then flew to Phoenix to outline in his usual bullying tone his latest priorities on immigration.
Yet the juxtaposition of Mr. Trump's dual performances was so jarring that his true vision and intentions on immigration were hard to discern. He displayed an almost unrecognizable demeanor during his afternoon in Mexico, appearing measured and diplomatic, while hours later he took the stage at his campaign rally and denounced illegal immigrants on the whole as a criminally minded and dangerous group that sows terror in communities and commits murders, rapes and other heinous violence.
Mr. Trump's mixed messages on whom he would deport and when, and how the government would go about removing people from the country, were further muddled by the incendiary language in the Phoenix speech—a deliberate effort by campaign advisers to draw attention to his criticism of illegal immigrants rather than the specifics of his plan.
Was Trump really making "an audacious attempt on Wednesday to remake his image on the divisive issue of immigration," as Healy instantly said? That's a statement of opinion. So is the claim that the juxtaposition of Trump's performances was "so jarring that his true vision and intentions on immigration were hard to discern."
Did Trump speak "in his usual bullying tone" when he spoke in Phoenix? That's pure opinion. Was his demeanor in Mexico City "almost recognizable?" Were his "mixed messages" "further muddled by the incendiary language in the Phoenix speech?" That's instant opinion too!
Healy's first attempt at describing last night't speech met with so much push-back that it was quickly rewritten, in major ways. Even in the version presented above, Healy behaves more like a pulp fiction star, less like a real reporter.
On a journalistic basis, we're often struck by how unimpressive the political staff at the New York Times is. They often seem like budding novelists. Maybe they should leave their day jobs and give that art form a try.
(Note: These are the same people who imagine the motives, and moral terrain, of people like Candidate Clinton. At the Times, a gang of underwhelming people are given miles of free rein.)