A so-called “bipartisan” letter from 58 national security officials condemning the president’s use of an emergency declaration for border security has almost nothing “bipartisan” about it. In fact, it’s a document signed by a who’s who of top Obama administration officials and fiercely anti-Trump figures. But that didn’t stop the media from reporting the story as if there were actual bipartisan consensus.
The letter made the rounds through the legacy media on Monday, castigating the president’s use of an emergency declaration to enhance U.S. border security measures. It claims that there is “no factual basis for the declaration of a national emergency,” adding that there is no justification for “reprogramming billions of dollars in funding to construct a wall at the southern border.”
Teeing up an anti-Trump, open-borders narrative, Politico reported: “President Donald Trump — already facing opposition on his national emergency declaration from House Democrats and a collection of state attorneys general — will on Monday have to contend with a rebuke by a bipartisan group of 58 former national security officials denouncing the White House’s directive.”
Countless media publications, including CNN, Politico, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and many more, claimed that the letter was bipartisan, offering credibility to the argument that these former national security officials are somehow neutral in their outlook.
WaPo: "A bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials will issue a statement Monday saying that 'there is no factual basis' for President Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border." https://t.co/fEBtLp3JAm
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 25, 2019
The president — already facing opposition on his national emergency declaration from House Democrats and a collection of state attorneys general — will on Monday have to contend with a rebuke by a bipartisan group of 58 former national security officials https://t.co/ETvkcywBVN
— POLITICO (@politico) February 25, 2019
A bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials — including Madeleine Albright and Chuck Hagel — say that “there is no factual basis” for Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency. #FakeTrumpEmergency https://t.co/ZK46XilDoZ
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) February 25, 2019
But just looking at the group of 58 makes it quite clear that this “bipartisan” label is incredibly misleading, and the document has been reported with gross negligence concerning the signatories’ political beliefs and associations. The notion that the letter is bipartisan could not be further from the truth.
Running the numbers on the so-called national security experts shows that the group is hardly bipartisan: 47 of 58 signatories to the letter served in the Obama administration. The roster is a who’s who of several high-profile Obama personnel, including:
Another six of the signatories to the letter served in the Clinton administration. That leaves just five who served in the Bush 43 administration. All of the self-identified Republicans who served in the Bush administration — John Bellinger, Nicholas Burns, Eliot Cohen, Jendayi Frazer, and John McLaughlin — have publicly denounced President Trump and/or signed letters opposing him. A few of the 47 Obama officials who were carried over to the Trump administration have publicly attacked the sitting president. There is not one pro-Trump voice among the 58 signatories.
It still remains unclear what organization was behind gathering the signatures. For reasons unknown, none of the dozens of well-sourced national security reporters who wrote about the document disclosed where it came from. However, the letter does state that the signatures are on file with Yale Law School Professor Harold Koh, who was a political appointee under President Obama.
Much of the media played a large role in propping up a “bipartisan” letter that is in reality nothing of the sort. Fake news strikes again.