Donald Trump is headed to Dayton and Ohio to try to get the traditional media to call him presidential and mitigate some of the damage his weak response to mass shootings and his support for white supremacy have done his already poor public image. The New York Times is sending strong signs that it will buy into that effort.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents the El Paso area, and her predecessor in that seat, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, have both publicly asked Trump not to visit the city while it’s still grieving 22 murders committed by a white supremacist Trump supporter. On Sunday night, Trump lashed out at O’Rourke on Twitter, telling him to “respect the victims & law enforcement - & be quiet!” O’Rourke responded, “El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I”—and indeed, El Paso residents are also speaking out. Escobar and O’Rourke will attend an event organized by the Border Network for Human Rights and Women's March El Paso. The city’s Republican mayor said he would welcome Trump in his official capacity, but wanted it known that he did not invite Trump.
Meanwhile, a petition coming from “the nurses, physicians, and medical staff who have cared for those injured and killed in the terrorist attack on our community” called on the hospital Trump will be visiting to reject his visit, because “Given President Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, we believe that a visit to our medical campus will be harmful for both the families affected and medical teams caring for those families.”
So against this backdrop—and, most importantly, against the backdrop of Trump’s constant racism and refusal to grapple with the reality of mass shootings in the U.S.—how did The New York Times preview Trump’s El Paso and Dayton visits? It’s “an attempt to deliver a message of national unity and healing.” Though the Times did acknowledge that “many grieving residents hold him responsible for inflaming the country’s racial divisions,” any plausibility to the piece was all over once the words “message of national unity and healing” went on the page. Did the Times really not learn its lesson from Monday night's headline debacle, when it was deservedly lambasted for going with a headline claiming “Trump urges unity vs. racism”? Apparently not. Remedial lesson, guys: Donald Trump does not want unity or healing to any extent greater than it will take to get his name delinked from the El Paso shooter’s white supremacist views, and—as witness his attack on O’Rourke—he’ll be back to overt divisiveness the second the teleprompter turns off.