First we have to go back in time for just a little bit to understand why what Republican Candidate Donald Trump said is, well…probably exactly something he would say, but in the end has just alienated the entire Latino vote…
In 1954, under the Eisenhower administration, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Mexican Government launched “Operation: Wetback” (you can already to tell how well this will end), where the primary goal was the arrest and deportation of illegal immigrants inside the United States. Within the first year, over 1 million arrests were made, however many of the issues were not only in the tactics used by law enforcement was used, but also the treatment of those who were arrested and deported. The book, Impossible Subjects, describes the ships used to deport the immigrants and the conditions on the ship to that of an “eighteenth century slave ship.” By all accounts it was a complete disaster, and even resulted in deaths.
Now that we understand what Operation: Wetback is, during Tuesday night’s GOP Debate, Donald Trump said he wanted to do the exact same thing. Really not that shocking of a statement for Trump, but it still grabbed headlines nonetheless. I was curious to see how NBC News and Fox News would not only cover this story, but if Fox News would try to spin it as positive issue, or a “Look how tough on immigration Donald Trump is!” kind of story. Not all that surprising, Fox News buried the story and then cited MSNBC quite a bit about it.
In the NBC News article, it mainly focuses on the history of “Operation: Wetback” and how much of a disaster it was, but also how that even if it did manage to deport 1 million illegal immigrants, there are an estimated 11 million within the United States now. “It’s not possible economically,” said [conservative Republican Alfonso] Aguilar, citing the resources needed to round up and deport 11 million people. “And it’s not the American way,” added Aguilar on NPR. The article in large part bashes Trump for even remotely thinking this was a good idea, which is what one would expect from NBC News whose audience base is largely democratic and pro-immigration.
Now, the interesting part was how Fox News handled the story. Besides burying the story (NBC News had the story has a front page article), inside of Fox News Latino where you wouldn’t see the story even in the Political section unless you navigated to Fox News Latino. Even searching for “Operation: Wetback” on Foxnews.com yielded only one result from an article in 2011. I had to search through Google in order to find the Fox News Latino story about this.
So, immediately you can see the difference in how the two articles would be setup starting with the headlines: Fox News – “Trump says he would have a ‘deportation force’ to track down and remove immigrants” compared to NBC News – “Trump’s Immigration Solution: Bring Back Controversial ‘Operation Wetback'”. Fox News tries to downplay what it was Trump was proposing compared to NBC News that just throws it in your face. However, the Fox News article is actually pretty tame, and similar to the NBC News story in that it describes what the operation was, however when they refer to the flaws of it they always put “MSNBC said” in front of it. If their readers are staunch believers that MSNBC is evil and liberal, they will immediately discredit the following statements. The article continues with both Jeb! and Governor Kasich denouncing Trump’s plan, and describing how it is just not the American way (similar to the NBC News article did).
So overall, both articles largely followed the same style of an issue frame (with a little game frame), and had fellow Republicans denounce Trump and his idea of trying what Eisenhower did in the 1950’s, but Fox News subtly makes it seem less of a dumb idea and doesn’t attack Trump nearly as harshly as the NBC News Article did.