A Hat Tip for This Reporter’s Tweets
As claims and counter-claims ricocheted back and forth this week about the separation of children from their parents crossing the border, I found myself hooked on one public media Twitter account.
So, here’s a hat tip to @LisaDNews, NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Although buried in the daily scrum of Capitol Hill news, Desjardins manages a robust Twitter feed that steers clear of cynicism or snarkiness while adding discrete information.
Consider: When Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a White House press briefing that there was a 315 percent increase in newcomers falsely claiming they were a parent-child family units, Desjardins weighed in with a math moment. She quickly noted that that such a large percentage increase could be calculated on a very small base.
Nielsen: we've had 300% increase in people falsely claiming to be family units.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 18, 2018
Which tells us: they do have stats on this aspect.
But notably does NOT tell us: how many people that is. It could be 300% increase over a few dozen. Or a few hundred. Or thousand. Big diff.
Indeed, news reports soon disclosed that there were 191 cases of false family claims between last October and February, fewer than 1 percent of all families apprehended at the border.
When ProPublica released audio of confined children crying, an audio that looped again and again through the day’s news feeds, Desjardins issued a go-slow caution, noting that we didn’t know the context of the recording or the intent of the border agents heard on the file.
WARNING that a) this is devastating audio b) we don't have a lot of context, seems possible the agents are trying to calm kids with humor and talk. Or they could be brutal in a brutal job. It's not clear.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 18, 2018
But it is very hard to hear, regardless. https://t.co/WhSGSwrFpP
When Trump administration officials foisted blame on Congress in general, or Democrats in particular, Desjardins weighed in with a “Dear White House” note: “FYI, you also have the ability to propose legislation. You can take the lead and put something on the table,” she reminded.
Dear White House,— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 18, 2018
FYI, you also have the ability to propose legislation.
If you think that is the problem with any issue in this country, you can take the lead and put something on the table.
She also noted that the president himself ditched an earlier immigration plan that might have passed.
Reminder: President Trump personally and last-minute took down the only immigration plan w/a chance in the Senate.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 18, 2018
(It tied for getting the most votes.) https://t.co/bLh2Lxvn4W
While much is made about transparency in journalism these days, Desjardins is very open about the questions that arise in her daily reporting. On Tuesday when Trump declared, “We don’t want judges, we want security on the border,” Desjardins tweeted: “I get the enforcement first idea, absolutely. But this raises question – does @realDonaldTrump understand the justice process. That there is a process after someone is detained?”
Likewise, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule broadly on a Maryland gerrymandering case, Desjardins asked: why take the case at all?
huh.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 19, 2018
POTUS now: "We don't want judges, we want security at the border."
I get his "enforcement first" idea, absolutely.
But this raises question - does @realDonaldTrump understand the justice process? That there is a process after someone is detained?
GERRYMANDERING. My Question for SCOTUS (and not unique to me): SO why did they take the MD case if it wasn't something they'd rule one??— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 18, 2018
While many reporters unpack political strategy in morning-after analyses, Desjardins sometimes does it in an immediate tweet, like her reaction Tuesday to a post from Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager: “Time to fire Sessions. End the Mueller investigation.”
“Wow,” Desjardins said. “So he might be interested in generating a new headline. (vs. “Kids in cages.”)
1. Wow. This is the Trump 2020 campaign manager.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) June 19, 2018
2. So he might be interested in generating a new headline. (vs "Kids in cages")
3. Firing Sessions now could push GOP senators to actually rebel. (But hard to say.)
4. IG report does not address the legitimacy of Mueller probe https://t.co/oLobWWa43D
But she also noted that firing Sessions now could “push GOP senators to actually rebel. (But hard to say.)”
We reached out to Desjardins for some insights on her Twitter philosophy, but didn't hear back before publication. All in all, she has steered clear of flogging her stories. She pokes a hole in news stories that quickly begin to overinflate. And she addresses official conduct with considered questions, not overt condemnation.
All get points in my book.