How much did "cable news" care? In hard copy, the report appeared atop the front page of the New York Times.
It appeared two Fridays ago. Beneath a double headline, the news report by Miriam Jordan started like this:
JORDAN (1/18/19): Many Families Split at Border Went Untallied / Report Says Thousands More Children TakenThe same situation was reported on the front page of that day's Washington Post. "IG estimates thousands more were separated at the border," the hard-copy headline said atop Amy Goldstein's report.
The Trump administration most likely separated thousands more children from their parents at the Southern border than was previously believed, according to a report by government inspectors released on Thursday.
The federal government has reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly separated from their parents under last year’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, under which nearly all adults entering the country illegally were prosecuted, and any children accompanying them were put into shelters or foster care.
But even before the administration officially unveiled the zero-tolerance policy in the spring of 2018, staff of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees the care of children in federal custody, had noted a “sharp increase” in the number of children separated from a parent or guardian, according to the report from the agency’s Office of Inspector General.
As of December, the department had identified 2,737 children who were separated from their parents under the policy and required to be reunified by a federal court order issued in June 2018.
But that number does not represent the full scope of family separations. Thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the court, the report said.
Thus, the total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is “unknown,” because of the lack of a coordinated formal tracking system between the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the arm of Health and Human Services that takes in the children, and the Department of Homeland Security, which separated them from their parents.
Did we mention the fact that this was reported at the very top of the New York Times' front page? According to this new report, the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents had been underway earlier than had previously been acknowledged.
The practice had resulted in thousands more separations than had been reported. Due to "the lack of a coordinated formal tracking system," the skillful minions of Donald J. Trump weren't able to provide an accurate account of the total number of separations.
The report appeared atop the front page of the hard-copy Times. It concerned one of the most heinous policies enacted by the Trump administration.
That said, we were struck by how little attention our corporate cable news channels devoted to the report. Simply put, our big corporate cable entertainment centers don't care about topics like this.
On CNN, this front-page topic received no prime time treatment at all. On the evenings of Thursday, January 17; Friday, January 18; and Monday, January 21, the topic wasn't mentioned by Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo or Don Lemon, the hosts who handle CNN's lineup from 8 PM Eastern till midnight.
It topped the front page of the New York Times, but CNN gave it a pass. The topic received a bit more coverage at MSNBC:
At MSNBC, the topic was completely ignored, over the three nights in question, by the programs hosted by Ari Melber, Chris Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell. If you get your news from one of those programs, you didn't hear squat about this.
On Thursday, January 17, an extremely short mini-report appeared on the program hosted by Brian Williams, with Ali Velshi guest hosting. That same night, Chris Hayes explored the topic with Senator Merkley during his program's final segment.
On Monday, January 21, Rachel Maddow did a full report on the topic at the end of her show with Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU. As usual, Maddow seemed to go beyond some reported facts, making the story more thrilling. If only she had a telephone sex tape involving General Kelly!
Long ago and far away, Joe Scarborough said that this particular policy was so heinous that it stood to drive voters of various stripes away from Donald J. Trump. Despite this assessment, the general topic has been largely ignored by corporate anti-Trump cable.
Corporate cable likes to spend its evenings with familiar figures ("some of our favorite reporters and friends") speculating endlessly about who will have to go to prison and how soon they'll have to report there. Two weeks back, this topic topped the Times' front page, but that was the anthill it died on.
How many of the children in question will never see their parents again? On corporate cable, there's little sign that anyone actually cares about minor piddle like that. For ourselves, we think it's important that liberals develop a slightly more jaundiced view about the way corporate cable works.
By the way, how much do those cable hosts get paid by their corporate owners? For reasons which are blindingly obvious, you aren't encouraged to think about that, and you aren't permitted to know!