Will the Media Fall For Trump’s 14th Amendment Stunt?

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The 14th Amendment guarantees birthright citizenship. That is, if you’re born on American soil, then you’re an American citizen, full stop. This applies to everyone born here—even if their parents are in the country illegally—including people of Hispanic descent like Mexicans and Hondurans.

By an amazing coincidence, Donald Trump has suddenly decided—seven days before an election—that he can repeal this part of the 14th Amendment with an executive order. David Frum explains:

A week before the election we have an “invasion” of brown people from the south. We have declarations that these brown people are diseased. We have 5,000 troops ordered to the border. We have dark intimations of “closing off” the border completely. And now we have the end of birthright citizenship.

All of this is designed to bring hate and fear to a fever pitch just before Election Day. If that means a few killings in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, well, it’s the media’s fault.

And for once, Trump has a point. All of Trump’s fear-mongering would be for nothing if the media didn’t report so breathlessly about it. Today will be a test. Repealing the 14th Amendment via executive order is a pure publicity stunt. It has no basis in history or reality, and there’s no reason to give it more than just the briefest dose of oxygen. Let’s see what CNN and the others do about it.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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