Video: Watch As America’s News Media Meticulously Covers Birthright Citizenship

Yesterday morning I asked:

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

More than 24 hours have now passed, which means I can render a judgment: they did not just “fall for it,” they morphed into an army of unflagging zombies who cared about nothing except ravaging the countryside for victims who would comment on the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment. Go see World War Z if you want to get the general gist of things:

But as the pitch guys say on TV, there’s more! I didn’t know this when I wrote my post yesterday, but Donald Trump himself didn’t even bring up the subject of birthright citizenship. It turns out that Jonathan Swan of Axios was interviewing Trump and decided to bring up the subject out of nowhere. Why? God knows. But after Trump blathered about it for a bit without actually committing to anything, Swan asked when it would happen. “It’s in the process,” Trump said. “It’ll happen.”

Everyone on the planet knows that this is Trumpspeak for “No one is working on it and I haven’t thought about it for a long time.”

But it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that everyone knows Trump can’t overturn birthright citizenship with an executive order anyway. Coverage was everywhere. Panels were hastily convened on cable TV. Learned academics wrote op-eds for the New York Times. Lawyers weighed in for the Washington Post. The usual suspects threw chaff in the air by insisting that it was an open question whether the 14th Amendment could be repealed by Trump’s signature. It was on the home page of every newspaper, every blog, every cable net.

In short, it was insane. It started with a reporter who thought he was being clever and ended up with the collective might of America’s news media weighing in on a topic with less actual substance than Kim Kardashian. Is the entire industry embarrassed by how they handled this yesterday? I guess there’s no telling. But they should be.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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