National outlets have pointed to the president’s relative silence on the caravan in the past week as proof of a clear political ploy to energize his conservative base ahead of the midterms—a trap many of the same major newspapers and broadcasters fell for.
He might return his attention to the caravan once a majority of migrants reach the U.S.-Mexico border (according to recent reports, small groups of migrants have already arrived). But for now it appears that Trump has lost all interest in the issue. He hasn’t tweeted about it since Election Day, despite previously stoking fear among conservative voters by making unsubstantiated claims about “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” who had allegedly infiltrated a caravan of otherwise helpless, desperate migrants. He also called for an end to birthright citizenship and ordered more than 5,000 troops to guard the border. They are now hard at work putting up barbed wire and additional fencing along the border between Tijuana and San Diego.
Fox News, which dedicated over 33 hours of airtime to the caravan from mid-October through Election Day, spent less than five minutes discussing it in the two days following the election. The New York Times and The Washington Post ran 115 print stories on the caravan by November 2, 25 of which appeared on front pages. That coverage often sought to fact-check Trump’s claims and add context for readers and viewers, but also tended to frame the issue on Trump’s terms. It also pulled attention from other news, and glossed over the major factors driving the exodus, including violence, corruption, drought, and poverty.