Within minutes of The Washington Post reporting that President Donald Trump had referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries” during a meeting about immigration reform on Thursday, Media Twitter began gawking at the appearance of the profanity in web headlines and cable chyrons. Here was another journalistic norm shattered—another way Trump had degraded the discourse and brought the rest of us down to his level!
Congrats, I guess, for reporting what the president said. But us innocent news consumers also deserve some straightforward analysis of what this shitty remark actually means. And journalists are still—nearly a year into his presidency—largely tiptoeing around a perfectly accurate observation: Donald Trump is racist.
His newest racist comment came during a sit-down in the Oval Office, where lawmakers raised the idea of maintaining protections for the aforementioned countries in a bipartisan immigration deal. The Post’s Josh Dawsey spoke to two people “briefed on the meeting”:
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.
You know, good countries, like Norway. Wonder what that could mean?
Dawsey writes that Trump’s bipartisan audience was taken aback by his statement. NBC News also confirmed the racist outburst soon after, and the White House quickly put out a statement which did not deny that Trump spoke these racist sentences.
But nowhere in the Post story would you find Dawsey calling Trump what he plainly is: racist. And push alerts flowing out from news outlets seemed to dampen Trump’s remarks:
Commentators on cable news, meanwhile, largely walked right up to the line of identifying Trump—someone who we can all agree says and does racist things—as a racist.
He has racist views. He seems to harbors racist feelings. He thinks people of color are something less than white people. You’re almost there!
The term connotes final judgment, they might argue. But this is who Trump is: A racist. To soften your descriptions of him is to mislead the rest of us.