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 Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.