Anti-Trump media moves goal posts after executive order in 'shameful' display of bias

The reaction to President Trump's executive order on Wednesday, which will allow parents who have crossed the U.S. border illegally to remain with their children, served as a microcosm of how he simply cannot win when it comes to the mainstream media.

“It’s nearly impossible for this president to please his critics. In this case, he’s reversing his policy that separates these migrant families, but Democrats and the media immediately move the goal post, saying that what he’s doing isn’t enough,” Mediaite columnist Joseph Wulfsohn told Fox News.

“It’s nearly impossible for this president to please his critics. In this case, he’s reversing his policy that separates these migrant families, but Democrats and the media immediately move the goal post saying that what he’s doing isn’t enough."

- Mediaite columnist Joseph Wulfsohn

After weeks of calling for Trump to take action, he signed the order allowing children to stay in detention with their parents for an extended period of time. The order came after he and other officials repeatedly said only Congress had the power to stop children and their parents from being separated.

Trump’s executive order wasn’t good enough for his critics.

CNN’s Jake Tapper opened his show by asking, “Why didn’t he do this 2,000 kids ago?”

Tapper would go on to speculate that Trump “didn’t really sound” like he wanted to sign the executive order, while other CNN pundits criticized the president by saying that he didn’t actually need to sign an executive order to end the policy.

CNN’s Don Lemon called Trump “shameful” and said he only “caved” when heartbreaking photos emerged before defending Democrats – who the Trump administration has blamed for the law.

“Zero tolerance has nothing to do with Democrats. It was this White House that decided to prosecute every single adult crossing the border illegally,” Lemon said, perhaps not realizing what the term “illegally” means.

Since Trump signed the order, CNN’s on-screen chyrons have been snarky and condescending, such as “Executive order ending family separation creates new chaos” and “Trump caves on his own family separation policy.”

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell mocked Trump for generating headlines such as “Trump caves,” and spent a significant chunk of his primetime program looking for loopholes and flaws in the order.

"Now that the kids would be allowed to stay with their families, the networks were huffing and puffing about kids being in jail.”

- NewsBusters analyst Nicholas Fondacaro

“For the last week, the liberal media were concerned about the Trump administration separating kids while their parents were being detained. But now that the kids would be allowed to stay with their families, the networks were huffing and puffing about kids being in jail,” NewsBusters analyst Nicholas Fondacaro wrote.

“CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor ranted that Trump was trying to “put out a big political fire with a few drops of ink,” while NBC’s Jacob Soboroff harped on the fact that reunited families would continue to be detained.

“Frankly, we do not know how long these families will be detained together. What we do know is that children that were held alone in facilities like this will now be housed with their parents. Historically the length of those family detentions could be up to 20 days long,” Soboroff said.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir said the executive order leads to new questions and asked, “How long can the Trump administration detain entire families?”

ABC News even sent a misleading Tweet, captioning a clip of Trump saying, "We're sending them the hell back," with news about the executive order – when the president was actually referring to the brutal MS-13 gang.  

Wulfsohn said that it’s a “political strategy” for liberal pundits to “always be upset at Trump,” even if they get what they want.

“They will still express manufactured outrage in order to push their agenda,” Wulfsohn said.

Late night comedians also used the executive order as an excuse to mock the president. Stephen Colbert played a clip of Trump saying he doesn’t like the idea of families being separated – something liberals have called for him to say – and then sneered that Trump makes everything about himself.

Colbert said Trump signing the order “made it look like he did something good instead of admitting to ending the evil thing he started.”

Samantha Bee joked, “Yay! No more baby internment camps, just regular internment camps… That’s what we call a win in 2018.”

“It’s always been about cynical emotional manipulation... It’s one of the most shameful chapters in our modern media’s history."

- Conservative strategist Chris Barron

Conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News that it was “never about the policy” and it wasn’t even about children or families.

“It’s always been about cynical emotional manipulation. Manufacturing a crisis, stoking hysteria and even condoning violence, all in the name of getting clicks and viewers. It’s one of the most shameful chapters in our modern media’s history,” Barron said.

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.