One day after President Donald Trump ripped the news media during a surprise 77-minute press conference, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, has labeled as “false” and “irresponsible” an Associated Press report that the administration was considering the use of National Guard troops to round up illegal aliens.
If Trump was looking for evidence to bolster his assertion that the dominant media dishes out “fake news,” Friday’s flap over the AP report could provide a foundation. The AP story is reportedly based on an 11-page document obtained by the news service and further asserts that “Staffers in the Department of Homeland Security said the proposal had been discussed as recently as last Friday.”
“The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana,” the AP reported.
The Daily Mail is quoting Spicer, who told reporters on Air Force One, “That is 100 percent not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this. There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.”
The Drudge Report headline regarding the furious discussion was blunt: “AP Botch: National Guard Not Called on Illegals.”
Trump’s Thursday press conference was something of a verbal brawl, with the president taking issue with media descriptions of his administration being in “chaos.” Almost as if to provide proof of such portrayals, the New York Times called the press conference “chaotic,” and then reported:
“For days, a frustrated and simmering president fumed inside the West Wing residence about what aides said he saw as his staff’s inadequate defense and the ineffectiveness of his own tweets. Over the objections of some top advisers who wanted to steer him away from confrontation, Mr. Trump demanded to face the media, determined to reject the narrative that his administration is sinking into chaos, scandal and incompetence.
“In a rowdy, free-for-all news conference hastily staged in the East Room, Mr. Trump attempted to deflect attention from news coverage about Russian intelligence, the resignation of his national security adviser, the defeat of his labor secretary nominee, and deepening questions about his ability to govern.”
Newspapers as far away as Sacramento and Seattle are repeating the National Guard mobilization story, which contains a caveat several paragraphs into the text that, “A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.”
The Daily Mail noted in its report, “Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told DailyMail.com and other outlets on Friday: ‘It’s incorrect. The Department is not considering mobilizing the National Guard for immigration enforcement.’
“Separately, a DHS official said: ‘The report referenced by the AP was a very early, pre-decisional draft that never made it to the secretary and was never seriously considered by the Department.’”
The timing of the AP story, and the quick denial of its veracity, could easily reinforce the president’s contention that the press is deliberately negative toward his administration. But his verbal jousting with reporters Thursday appears to be popular with the public.
The Rasmussen Reports daily presidential tracking poll for Friday shows 55 percent of likely voters approve of Trump’s job performance with 45 percent disapproving, a carbon copy of the Thursday report.