Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson delivered bombshell testimony to the House Select Committee on Tuesday afternoon, confirming in graphic detail that Donald Trump was glad to hear his supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they attacked the U.S. Capitol.
In a video recording of an earlier interview with the committee, Hutchinson was shown describing her boss, then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, discussing the “Hang Mike Pence” chants of the Capitol insurrectionists with then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more, they’re literally calling for the vice president to be f’ing hung,’” Hutchinson said, “and Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it, he doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’ To which Pat said something, ‘This is f’ing crazy, we need to be doing something more.’”
Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney segued out of that video, saying, “Let me pause here on this point. As the rioters chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ the president of the United States, Donald Trump, said that, quote, ‘Mike deserves it,’ and that those rioters were not doing anything wrong.”
Cheney went on to air a clip of a Trump interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, in which he responded to a question specifically about the “Hang Mike Pence” chants by saying:
“Because it’s—it’s common sense, Jon, it’s common sense, that you’re supposed to protect. How can you—if you know a vote is fraudulent, right—how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?”
Trump’s pivot away from the chant to his anger at Pence showed that, yes, he supported those chants. As did his 2:24 PM tweet on Jan. 6, next flagged by Cheney:
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
But while both of these earlier public statements from Trump told anyone who was willing to hear it what they needed to know about his response, there were still people out there—prominent people—giving Trump the benefit of the doubt on his response to “Hang Mike Pence.” Hutchinson’s testimony has to pull some of those people off the fence of denial.
Donald Trump didn’t think the mob violently attacking the U.S. Capitol was doing anything wrong, even when they expressed a desire to murder his own second-in-command, a man who had spent more than four years lavishly tongue-bathing him, because on this one thing Pence had reluctantly concluded he had to follow the law rather than Trump’s wishes. Hutchinson’s account of the conversation between Meadows and Cipollone shows how explicit Trump’s reaction was—it might have been thinly veiled when he talked to Karl, but it wasn’t when he talked to his top aides in the moment—and the degree to which everyone around him knew it.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
After at least 50 migrants were found dead from heat exposure after they were left trapped in an abandoned truck in San Antonio, Texas, this week, some mainstream media outlets became vehicles for right-wing politicians to exploit the horrific event by printing their outlandish comments without sufficient pushback.
On Monday night, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted, “These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
It ought to be obvious that “open border policies” are not responsible for this horrifying tragedy; people would not resort to sneaking across the border, the victims of human smugglers, if the border were in fact “open” and easy to cross.
As University of Texas Rio Grande Valley political science professor Terence Garrett told PolitiFact while responding to Abbott’s previous lies about Biden’s immigration policies, “There's no such thing as an open border.” According to Garrett, current border security measures include nearly 20,000 Border Patrol agents, aerial surveillance systems, and hundreds of miles of fencing. “We don’t have an open border,” Garrett said. “That’s absurd.”
Though this week’s horror was perhaps the deadliest human smuggling event in modern American history, these types of tragedies are not a new phenomenon and neither is the predictable right-wing response. After the deaths of 10 migrants in Texas in July 2017 — when Donald Trump was president and Abbott was also the governor of Texas — right-wing media voices called for more border wall construction and the defunding of so-called “sanctuary cities.”
However, recent history shows that more fencing and Border Patrol resources do not actually deter migration. Instead, such policies simply divert migrants into more dangerous routes, while the core issues that lead them to flee their homelands remain unaddressed. In fact, the increasingly intense security along the southern border is in part responsible for greater suffering and death among migrants. Migrants have been killed or injured from falls when attempting to scale the barriers, while others are driven deeper into inhospitable desert regions as they search for accessible crossings.
Mainstream Media Privilege Abbott’s Lies
In a tweet, The New York Times simply publicized Abbott’s smear of Biden without adding any explanation. The linked article from the Times’ live page included Abbott’s full quote, without any direct pushback or inclusion of data about the Biden administration’s continued enforcement efforts or any clear demonstration that the Times realized Abbott’s claim was false.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas pointed the blame at President Biden for the migrant deaths in San Antonio. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies,” he wrote on Twitter.— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 28, 2022
Follow live updates: https://t.co/YLcGybiM12
Other news outlets carried the basic facts that the Biden administration is indeed fully enforcing border security. But they also created a false political balance by still repeating Abbott’s outrageous accusation and not specifically debunking his false claim. The Washington Post, for example, pointed out that Customs and Border Patrol had made 239,416 arrests in May, further commenting: “The agency is on pace to surpass the record 1.73 million border arrests tallied in 2021 — presenting an ongoing logistical and political challenge for the Biden administration.” Immediately following that sentence, the Post still ran Abbott’s baseless accusation that the deaths were purportedly the result of Biden’s “refusal to enforce the law.”
Similarly, The Associated Press quoted immigration advocate Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, who pointed out, “With the border shut as tightly as it is today for migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, people have been pushed into more and more dangerous routes.”
But then the AP immediately quoted not only Abbott, but also former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, a notorious white nationalist who sought to push asylum entries down to zero during the Trump administration.
The AP did not provide any of this context to readers, instead simply serving as a stenographer for an anti-immigrant zealot: “Stephen Miller, a chief architect of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, said, ‘Human smugglers and traffickers are wicked and evil’ and that the administration’s approach to border security rewards their actions.” (As documented above, tough border policies do “reward” human smugglers by fostering the economic and logistical incentives for them to prey on migrants — though Miller would insist upon even tougher crackdowns and more exclusionary policies.)
Following the article’s citation of Miller, the AP then quoted Abbott: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican running for reelection, was blunt in a tweet about the Democratic president: ‘These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies.’”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.