Reporter Jonathan Swan came under fire by immigration activists and attorneys on Tuesday after HBO dropped the trailer for its new midterm miniseries Axios. The controversy surrounded an interview in which President Trump told Swan his plans to sign an executive order terminating citizenship for babies of undocumented immigrants.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States … with all of those benefits,” said Trump during the promo. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
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As a reporter who built his brand off White House access, Swan is being criticized for not pushing back harder on the president, while giving the Trump administration a platform to sell its controversial immigration policies. Reporters, activists and immigration attorneys all united around a bonfire of disgust for the celebrity reporter’s apparent chumminess with the president.
In an article titled “Jonathan Swan Is a Bootlicker,” Splinter accused Swan of “enabling an administration that has shown from the very beginning its determination to make racism a cornerstone of its immigration policy” and “positioning the value of his exciting scoop over the horrifying implications of this policy.”
“Jonathan Swan would push you under a bus to get an exclusive on how you died,” wrote the outlet.
The Intercept’s cofounder Jeremy Scahill sarcastically tweeted that “On the next @axios HBO special, they are excited to share how Donald Trump is going to replace the First Amendment with another Second Amendment.”
“i wish jonathan swan would swan dive into a vat of acid,” tweeted ‘Young Turks’ commentator Hasan Piker.
One immigration attorney Observer spoke with directed most of his criticism toward Trump for drumming up “fear and confusion among affected communities,” saying that if Axios hadn’t broken the scoop, Maggie Haberman “or someone else would have.”
“To be clear, this is the administration’s doing, not the free press,” R. Andrew Free told Observer. “Right now there are US-born kids of foreign-born parents who are wondering if this is still their country, and whether they’ll still belong. I wonder whether Axios’s editorial process contemplated the pain and crisis that uncertainty would cause.”
The full interview with Trump will air on Axios on HBO this Sunday.