There was always something fishy about the outbreak of “spontaneous” protests at airports around the country in the immediate wake of President Trump’s executive order pausing visas and refugees from terror-prone countries.
Not that you’d suspect anything from the way they were covered. Nearly every story published over that weekend stated without equivocation that the protests were an unplanned and visceral reaction to Trump’s executive order. Examples:
“Spontaneous Protests Hit Airports Across America Following Trump’s Executive Order”
“Protest Grows ‘Out of Nowhere’ at Kennedy Airport”
“The senseless cruelty of the executive order has led to spontaneous protests at many of America’s major airports.”
“Word of the spontaneous demonstration was spread across social media.”
But these protests weren’t spontaneous at all. They were, in fact, the result of months of careful planning by hard-core left-wing activist groups.
“News reports and TV broadcasts about the week’s protests described the events as ‘spontaneous protests’ mounted in response to the Trump administration’s travel and immigration executive order,” author Asawin Suebsaeng writes at the liberal leaning Daily Beast. “But to Make the Road New York, and the groups like it across the country, there was nothing ‘spontaneous’ about it.”
Suebsaeng notes that “professional organizers had been waiting and planning for this type of mass, direct action — ready-made to go viral on social media — even since, well Nov. 9.” These professional organizers, he says have been “anticipating and mapping out their battle plans for Trump’s orders on deportations, bans, and detention.”
The executive director of the Arab American Action Network told Suebsaeng that “we had been laying the groundwork for this for a long, long time.”
Since Trump had made clear that he planned — on day one, in fact — to issue a temporary ban on visas and refugees from terror prone countries, all these groups had to do was wait until he made good on that pledge to spring into action.
What’s amazing isn’t the planning or the execution of these protests, but the fact that the media acted as though it was all happening without any planning or coordination at all.
This was important because making the protests appear spontaneous gave them a sense of urgency and legitimacy they otherwise wouldn’t have had.
As the Huffington Post put it: “These powerful images show Americans everywhere rallying against the president’s immigration crackdown.”
Did these news outlets know that the airport protests had been carefully planned? Or that stories they were getting about disarray and families torn apart were being fed to them by activist groups?
After all, the organizations involved in planning the “spontaneous” protests all seemed eager to share their successes with the Daily Beast, including about how they were in “constant contact with … lawyers’ associations, lawmakers, reporters … .”
The fact that the mainstream press either ignorantly fell for — or were active participants in — what amounts to anti-Trump agitprop calls into question much of the rest of the coverage about these events. How much of what was being reported as fact was actually made up or wildly exaggerated by professional activists?
We learned earlier this week, for example, that a widely reported story about a 75-year old mother who died in Iraq after being barred from re-entering the U.S. was a complete lie made up by Iraq-born Mike Hager, who now lives in Michigan.
An in-house ad on The New York Times’ homepage says: “The truth is hard to find.” That’s true. Especially when supposedly trustworthy news outlets are busy spreading falsehoods.