This claim is omnipresent on social media and beyond:
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 16, 2018
Peruse Twitter or Facebook right now, and you’ll see this line everywhere — and not solely in the feeds of left-leaning journalists or from admitted critics of the president. Collectively, this is the line that the “down-the-middle” press has elected to sell. In the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson complains that, “calling immigrants ‘animals,’ Trump evokes an ugly history of dehumanization.” USA Today reports that “Trump ramps up rhetoric on undocumented immigrants: ‘These aren’t people. These are animals.'” The Huffington Post gripes that “Trump Refers To Immigrants As ‘Animals.’ Again.”
This isn’t true. Trump didn’t “lash out at undocumented immigrants,” or “refer to immigrants as ‘animals.'” Rather, he referred to members of the murderous gang, MS-13, as “animals” after a questioner brought the outfit up by name. That he was responding to the question, not riffing on illegal immigrants in general, is extremely obvious to anyone who has watched the full footage of the exchange, which, presumably, is why every single news story that suggests otherwise features a truncated clip or transcript that edits the questioner out. Here, from CSPAN, is a good example of the trick.
What these outlets are doing here is lying. There is no more accurate way of putting it. One can forgive the thousands of people who see this false information and reflexively believe it to be true — unless they look into the matter, they will know no better. But one cannot forgive those who are deliberately spreading falsehoods. Trump himself is a habitual liar — to the point at which he lies about things about which there is no obvious incentive to lie. If the press thinks they can change that by spreading lies themselves, it’s going to be sorely disappointed.