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Columbia Journalism Review Cites Professor Anil Kalhan’s Critique of Media Credulity in Trump Coverage

Professor Anil Kalhan

November 01, 2018

The Columbia Journalism Review covered publicity surrounding an interview in which President Donald Trump announced a plan to halt birthright citizenship, which exposed naivete by members of the national press corps.

The Oct. 31 article republishes commentary Professor Anil Kalhan provided, via Twitter, in response to a tweet by Axios about its release of an “exclusive” interview, in which Trump contends that he could terminate citizenship rights of babies born in the U.S. to non-citizen parents through an executive order.

Axios’ Oct. 30 tweet received widespread media attention, which in turn drew the criticism of scholars and some journalists, who accused the outlet of failing to perform the most basic due diligence and acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment outlines citizenship as a birthright.  

“This is a terrible, inaccurate headline and a credulous article worthy of a government-affiliated propaganda outlet,” Kalhan tweeted on Oct. 30, responding to the Axios announcement. In his Twitter feed, Kalhan went on to suggest that the outlet might as well announce that Trump plans to reinstitute slavery or to fire the governor of New York by executive order. He also noted that many news outlets had repeated the claim without acknowledging its lack of a factual basis.

In addition to quoting Kalhan, the CJR quotes legal experts and other journalists who criticized Axios and outlets including the Associated Press and Bloomberg for reporting Trump’s claims without acknowledging their lack of accuracy.  

“When I talk about the salivating for headlines and clicks—and why the media will never NOT rush to highlight Trump’s craziness—this is a really good example,” CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien said in a tweet republished by CJR.

When media outlets repeat inaccurate or misleading statements by Trump without acknowledging that they are incorrect or false, the article contends, journalists  become “part of the problem.”