The Media Is Repeating Trump’s Lies About Birthright Citizenship

While an Axios reporter appears visibly thrilled with having goaded Trump into an explosive, anti-immigrant quote.

Chris Kleponis/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Tuesday, Axios released the first clip of its upcoming four-part HBO series, which featured President Donald Trump floating the possibility of ending birthright citizenship for babies of non-US citizens and undocumented immigrants, a constitutional right enshrined in the 14th Amendment. 

“Some legal scholars believe you can get rid of birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution,” reporter Jonathan Swan asserts to Trump in the interview. Trump then interrupts to finish Swan’s thoughts, “with an executive order.”

“Exactly!” he replies, appearing visibly thrilled with the prospect of having goaded Trump into an explosive, anti-immigrant quote. “Tell me more!” Swan encourages the president.

As the clip continues, Trump goes on to incorrectly complain that the United States was the only country in the world to offer birthright citizenship. In reality, at least 30 countries worldwide offer it. According to Trump, though, that right has unfairly provided benefits to people he apparently believes are undeserving of them. “It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous,” he says. “And it has to end.”

The interview continues, but Swan doesn’t counter the president’s blatant falsehood. It was then breathlessly repeated in headlines without qualification or mention that the proposal is likely unconstitutional. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As many noted the dangers of failing to fact-check the president, Axios eventually added a note to the clip’s corresponding post. The Associated Press also deleted its tweet reiterating Trump’s remarks without context.

While Trump probably lacks the legal authority to carry out his supposed plans for an executive order, the mere raising of its possibility has likely already accomplished what the Trump administration has often sought to do with such issues, and that is to threaten his targets with fear-mongering rhetoric while at the same time fomenting his base. Trump has escalated those tactics in the final push ahead of the midterms, and his latest threat of an executive order fits right into the pattern.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate