“Test balloons. How do they work?” — CNN, probably.
CNN is upset Trump misled them about his plans to support a pathway to legalisation for DREAMers.
Before his Joint Address Tuesday night, Trump met with reporters and talked about the need for “compromise” in the coming immigration legislation.
CNN reported Tuesday:
President Donald Trump wants to pass an immigration reform bill that could grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US.
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump told reporters Tuesday at the White House.
The President is eager to pass a compromise immigration bill in his first term that would stop short of granting a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, but would allow undocumented immigrants who aren’t serious or violent criminals to live, work and pay taxes in the US without fear of deportation, a senior administration official said.
The story was out long enough for the administration to gauge reaction and prepare or adjust Trump’s remarks accordingly. Thought he mentioned compromise across party boundaries, there was no mention of a pathway to legalisation for kids brought to the U.S. without proper entry or status.
Later, CNN claimed they’d been victim of a misinformation campaign:
SARA MURRAY: Let’s just change gears entirely and talk about the bait and switch that the president pulled when it came to immigration yesterday. He had this meeting with the anchors, he talked about a path to legal status. Basically they fed up things that they thought these anchors would like, that they thought would give them positive press coverage for the next few hours. A senior administration official admitted that it was a misdirection play. And you will note that when the president was actually out there speaking to the American public, he didn’t talk about a path to legal status. He talk about reforming the legal immigration system so it’s merit-based. That means fewer low-skilled workers, fewer people coming on family ties, more people coming on high-skilled visas. That is still closer to a Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon framework of the world than Gang of Eight, who pushed comprehensive immigration reform.
JOHN KING (HOST): Interesting twist, although it does make you wonder, so we’re not supposed to believe what the senior-most official at the lunch says, who then they allowed it to be the president’s name says, we’re not supposed to believe what they say, maybe we shouldn’t believe what they say.
Making this story a little strange is that Buzzfeed reports that Trump himself went on the record as a “senior administration official”. But to make sure this story had an extra layer of meta, Buzzfeed cited an anonymous source claiming Trump was an anonymous source:
In a private meeting with national news anchors ahead of his address to Congress Tuesday night, Trump went on background with reporters as a “senior administration official” to discuss issues like immigration, telling attendees that it was time for a legislative compromise from both parties.
“There’s got to be a coming together,” an “official” said, according to CNN. As BuzzFeed News reported, citing attendees at the meeting, Trump was the one to make that remark, among others attributed to the official.
Reporters were allowed to put some of Trump’s comments back on the record at 6 p.m., according to a person familiar with the terms of the meeting. CNN later updated its story, for instance, with a quote from Trump. “The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” he said.
Trump’s relationship with the political press corps is a contentious one, but not undeservedly. If what CNN and Buzzfeed said is true, then they should have the sense to see they were test ballooned and not maliciously misled.
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