The Media Blows It, Says Boehner Is Now Backing Away From Immigration Reform

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 6 2014 3:19 PM

The Media Blows It, Says Boehner Is Now Backing Away From Immigration Reform

467291101-speaker-of-the-house-rep-john-boehner-speaks-during-his
OMG! John Boehner once again held his weekly press conference!

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The bias of the news media is to pretend that something new is happening. Example: Every week that Congress is in session, Speaker of the House John Boehner gives a short on-camera press conference. At today's, in the eyes of reporters, he seemed to be backpedaling on immigration reform. In the LA Times: "Speaker Boehner lowers expectations for immigration reform bill." In MSNBC: "Boehner warns immigration reform is in serious danger." At Fox News: "Boehner hits brakes on immigration overhaul."

What you see here is a mixture of sensationalism and the newness fallacy. What did Boehner actually say? "Listen, there's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws." Pro tip: For Boehner, "listen" is a sort of verbal tic that commences a line or sentence he's got in the can. He's said the same thing many, many times. And what he was saying there was straight from the current approved talking points.

Advertisement

Look back just four days to the Sunday shows that came after the House GOP retreat. Eric Cantor: "The president [has] got to demonstrate frankly to the country and the congress can trust him in implementing the laws." Paul Ryan: "Here's the issue that all Republicans agree on—we don't trust the president to enforce the law."

All three of these men think it'd be good for the GOP to pass an immigration bill, and all three know that the bulk of their conference is against it. So they have to couch the proposal in whatever language mollifies the rest of the party. Last summer, it was that (Boehner speaking now) "These big, comprehensive bills, that tend to cause all kinds of problems—the American people get suspicious, members haven't read the bills."

PRI's Todd Zwillich, one of the most perceptive reporters on the Hill, ran this Boehner quote by Chuck Schumer, who's also pretty perceptive. The result:

That's not to say that the Congress will actually pass a bill this year. It's just to prove that Boehner was managing his conference and generating the headlines that would not rouse any anti-reform groups.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 29 2014 12:01 PM This Is Your MOM’s Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.