Washington Post declares crisis at border, flip-flops after Trump emphasizes issue

The Washington Post can’t seem to make up its mind on whether there is a crisis at the southern border, initially declaring the situation a "bona fide emergency" before backpedaling once President Trump emphasized that very point in his Oval Office address.

The Post published a story on Jan. 5 headlined, “After years of Trump’s dire warnings, a ‘crisis’ has hit the border but generates little urgency.” It was co-bylined by news reporters Nick Miroff and David Nakamura and detailed “a bona fide emergency on the border” that is occurring because agents are overwhelmed as “record numbers of migrant families are streaming into the United States.”

The reporters wrote, “There has been little bipartisan urgency to examine the relatively narrow set of legal and administrative changes that could potentially make a difference in slowing illegal migration or improving conditions for families who arrive at the border.”

The reporters also called it a “humanitarian crisis.”

But the paper changed its tune following Trump’s Tuesday evening Oval Office address. The Post’s political correspondent Dan Balz penned an analysis headlined, “Trump used the Oval Office to try to create a border crisis.”

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Balz accused Trump of creating “a sense of crisis in pursuit of an elusive campaign promise,” echoing in part Democratic lawmakers' claims that the administration is manufacturing a crisis. The stories, in the span of a few days, both appeared as part of the paper’s political news coverage.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron, though, rejected the notion that the two stories were contradictory.

"There is no contradiction here," he said in a statement to Fox News. "The news story reported on the actual emergency at the border – the surging numbers of migrant families seeking asylum, the challenges that the U.S. government is facing in detaining them, and the deaths of immigrant children in U.S. custody. These people are primarily seeking asylum and turning themselves in at points of entry. This is not the illegal immigration crisis described by President Trump Tuesday night, which he argued is best addressed by a wall."

He said Balz, in his analysis of the speech, "appropriately pointed out that Trump’s description of the problem relies on mischaracterizations and dubious claims."

Trump used his first-ever primetime address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night to make his case for funding a southern border wall -- as well as to emphasize the human cost of what he called the "growing humanitarian and security crisis" of surging illegal immigration.

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The speech was followed moments later by a rebuttal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Schumer accused Trump of trying to "manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his Administration."

Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.