The Senate’s passage of the United States Mexico Canada trade deal (USMCA) on Thursday was a huge win for President Trump. The bill passed by a vote of 89-10 in the Senate and 385-41 in the House, signaling its broad bipartisan support.
The USMCA is a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The deal “requires 75 percent of automobile components be manufactured in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in order to avoid tariffs, and that 40 to 45 percent of automobile parts be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023.”
This was a big political victory for President Trump.
Clearly, at least one writer over at Politico was happy with the deal as well and penned an article entitled, “Senate passes USMCA in major win for Trump.” There was no subheadline or lede below it.
Forty minutes later, however, the headline had changed. It read, “Senate passes USMCA, but much work remains.” Below the headline was a brief lede which read, “It’ll take years of costly work before American workers and businesses begin to benefit from the new trade pact with Mexico and Canada.”
The headline had changed from unequivocal praise to acknowledgement of its passage and informing readers that “much more work” needs to be done before America realizes any benefits from it.
Apparently, somebody inside the organization did not want to give President Trump any credit for brokering the deal and forced the change.
— Erin Perrine (@ErinMPerrine) January 16, 2020
But the thing about making a major change to a headline after it’s been published for 40 minutes, especially one that meaningfully alters the story, is that readers notice.
Instances like this serve only to reinforce the fact that true journalism is dead. It’s a classic example of how the mainstream media works to “shape” the news as opposed to simply reporting it.
Americans receive the “story” a particular media outlet wants them to hear. In this example, the readers who read the article before the change would be left to believe the USMCA deal was a win for Trump. Those who read it 40 minutes later wouldn’t know that Trump had negotiated it or that it was positive news. They would know only that the Senate passed it, and it will require spending more money and several years before the U.S. will reap any rewards from it. Those who happened to see both titles might feel a little duped.
By the way, don’t forget to tune in to the documentary CNN’s Brian Stelter is producing for HBO about the rise of “fake news.” It’s scheduled to be released in March and it should be illuminating.