A brief but telling episode of how the hard-right site Breitbart whips up hate of immigrants, including the young undocumented “Dreamers” whose future in the US is under threat from the Trump Administration….
On Tuesday night, soon after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the suspension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Breitbart — managed by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — promoted an attack piece on the supposed criminal behavior of Dreamers:
The tweet linked to a hyperbolic story, “2,139 DACA Recipients Convicted or Accused of Crimes Against Americans”, using Sessions’ label of “illegal aliens” — and declaring a “staggering” rate of criminal behavior.
Unsurprisingly, the article is riddled with exaggerations and distortions. Because it provides no context, it does not note that the rate of conviction and imprisonment is far lower for immigrants — especially undocumented immigrants — than for the general population.
The piece does not separate the number convicted from those accused, and thus possibly later cleared. And its chosen 50 most terrifying cases actually only a handful of serious crimes — almost half were actually detained in a sweep of undocumented immigrants in January.
But the most vivid misrepresentation is in the photograph for the tweet and, initially, for the article. Those pictured are not Dreamers. They are not immigrants. They are not even in the US.
That’s right — Breitbart’s attempted image of menace is from El Salvador in January 2013, featuring members of the MS-13 gang.
The site later replaced the image in both the article and the tweet, going for a less dramatic picture of a man in handcuffs (location and identity unknown). The editors never admitted their initial error, let alone apologize, and the story was unchanged.
Where is our compassion!???? https://t.co/IRZQwAdj2c
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 5, 2017
Instead, the site headlines excitedly on Thursday, “Trump Admin Memo: DACAs Should ‘Prepare’ for ‘Their Departure’ from U.S.”