Drew’s Receipts: So Much for ‘Walls Don’t Work’

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
October 7, 2023

Happy Saturday. Let's check in on the media this past week.

Biden's border crisis: President Joe Biden repudiated his own move to resume construction of former President Donald Trump's southern border wall, claiming he was legally obligated to undertake the project but it would not be effective. Still, the mainstream media—which once claimed a wall across the entire 2,000-mile border wouldn't work—treated Biden's plan to build 20 miles like a serious response to the migrant crisis.

New York Times: "US Will Build Stretch of Border Wall and Begin Deportations to Venezuela":

The Biden administration on Thursday said it would expand former President Donald Trump’s wall on the Mexican border and begin deporting thousands of Venezuelans in an effort to cut down on the migrant surge that shows no signs of abating. ...

As the number of migrants entering the United States has soared in recent months, Mr. Biden has come under fire from Republican leaders, who have made immigration a core issue in the presidential race, and he has faced increasing pressure from mayors of some Democratic-led cities.

"Given the high flow of people, and the political pressure from the right and left, Biden had to be more assertive on enforcement," said Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

"Even his own party has been asking for strong measures," he said.

CNN: "Biden Administration Bypasses 26 Federal Laws to Build Additional Border Wall in South Texas":

According to a notice posted to the Federal Register Wednesday, construction of the wall will be paid for using already appropriated funds earmarked specifically for physical border barriers. The administration was under a deadline to use them or lose them. But the move comes at a time when a new surge of migrants is straining federal and local resources and placing heavy political pressure on the Biden administration to address a sprawling crisis, and the notice cited "high illegal entry."

NBC News: "Biden Administration Waives Federal Laws to Allow Border Wall Construction in Texas":

In a striking acknowledgement of the need to address the migrant influx at the southern border, the Biden administration announced it waived 26 federal laws to permit more border wall construction in southern Texas, a move that builds on one of the most controversial cornerstones of the Trump administration.

Washington Post: "Biden Officials Will Resume Venezuela Deportations, Extend Border Wall":

U.S. officials said Thursday that they will resume direct deportation flights to Venezuela and fast-track construction of new barriers along the southern border, moves aimed at curbing the record number of illegal crossings into the United States under President Biden. ...

Last month, Border Patrol agents made nearly 219,000 arrests along the southern border, the highest monthly tally in 2023, according to preliminary CBP data obtained by The Washington Post. The Rio Grande Valley was CBP’s second-busiest sector in September, after Arizona’s Tucson sector, the data shows.

U.S. agents have made more than 6 million arrests along the southern border during the past three years, the busiest span in the 100-year history of the Border Patrol.

In the third-to-last paragraph of the article, the Post reported, "The border wall’s effectiveness at preventing illegal crossings remains a point of contention."

By comparison, here's how some of the same news outlets pooh-poohed Trump's wall in 2018 and 2019:

Washington Post: "This Photo Shows Why a Border Wall Won’t Stop The Immigration Surge"

Forbes: "Nobody Believes A Wall Will Stop Illegal Immigration"

PBS: "Trump Says Walls Work. It’s Much More Complicated"

Associated Press: "Here’s Why Trump’s Border Wall Won’t Work"

New York Times: "What Border Agents Say They Want (It’s Not a Wall)"

Media bubble: Despite Biden's best efforts, student loan payments restarted this month, unleashing a flood of sob stories about young professionals forced to pay their debts and cut back on their "fun budget."

NBC News profiled a Washington State lawyer who had to give up her private office space and additional phone lines she shared with her husband, a former philosophy professor. "We are going to be living on the brink," she said. "It is pretty terrifying."

The Associated Press talked to a California high school counselor who is considering picking up shifts at a winery. "Probably less going out to eat," she predicted.

The New York Times quoted an aerospace defense worker who will need to reduce her "fun budget," including travel and concerts.

ABC News, heralding an oncoming "train wreck," interviewed a 2020 college graduate who said: "leisurely spending is probably gone"

"This is white supremacy at work," one indebted community organizer told the AP.

Fair and balanced: Reporters went out of their way to make it OK that Laphonza Butler, a Democratic fundraiser appointed to fill Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat in California, lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Politico: "Butler, who is based in Washington and maintains close ties with Los Angeles ..."

New York Times "Ms. Butler, 44, has been a fixture in California politics for nearly 15 years as a former leader of the state’s largest labor union and an adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris."

NBC News: "Butler's professional career has been rooted in California, where she led SEIU Local 2015, the largest union in the state."

Associated Press: "Butler has never held elected office but has a long track record in California politics."

USA Today: "A spokesman said [Butler] owns a home in View Park, California and a place in LA where she will reside. She has already re-registered to vote in the state."

By contrast, during Dr. Mehmet Oz's 2022 Senate campaign in Pennsylvania, the Republican nominee's supposed lack of local roots was a headline-making scandal.

New York Times: "The Campaign to Troll Dr. Oz for Living in New Jersey":

For much of the summer, Fetterman’s campaign sustained a viral media narrative that depicted Oz not just as a wealthy, out-of-touch celebrity with a tenuous connection to Pennsylvania, but as something that is, both regionally and nationwide, way more loathed: a guy from New Jersey.

Washington Post: "First Snooki, Now Little Steven: Fetterman Trolls Oz With NJ Celebrities":

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, is using some of New Jersey’s most popular names to troll his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz, who is better known as a Garden State resident.

Republicans pounce: Journalists and House Democrats treated Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) eviction from her bonus office in the Capitol as the latest evidence of the GOP's depravity.

Never mind that Pelosi's party joined with a handful of hardline Republicans to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) as House speaker in an unprecedented coup that threw the House into chaos.

Truth to power: Washington Post columnist Phillip Bump warned that referring to China's freedom-crushing uniparty by its name is right-wing hate speech.

Bump's logic:

Criticizing China’s communism is by no means new in American politics, of course. But this phrasing, the "CCP" iteration of that criticism, seems to be in vogue at the moment. How did that happen?

As always, a useful way to answer such questions is to look at when it has been used on Fox News. Analysis of closed-captioning collected by the Internet Archive shows that use of "Chinese Communist Party" or "CCP" has been far more common on Fox News and Fox Business than on CNN and MSNBC. But there’s a clear point at which those references became more common: the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. ...

The pejorative outlasted that concern about the pandemic.

It's hardly the first time the media have sought to protect China's good name from the bigotry of the American right.


Stay safe out there, and see you next week.