Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had not even left yet for his visit to Mexico on Wednesday morning when the mainstream media began declaring it a failure.
Politico’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, for example, wrote in their morning “Playbook” email:
TRUMP TO MEXICO — We know that the Mexican government is not interested in paying for Donald Trump’s wall. In March, President Enrique Peña Nieto said that there was “no scenario” under which his country would fund the border envisioned by the Republican presidential candidate. In the same interview, he called Trump’s rhetoric “strident,” noting that kind of talk is how Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler rose to power.
We’re not Latin America experts, but it seems like this meeting comes with tremendous downside for Trump. First of all, he has absolutely no negotiating power. Trump has not been elected to anything, ever. And given Peña Nieto’s past statements and his low approval ratings, it seems more than likely that, in this bit of stagecraft, Trump will come up empty-handed — which could cut away at the core of his campaign, which is that he’s the dealmaker who never loses.
The New York Times also did its best, reporting Trump’s impending visit under the headline: “Donald Trump to Visit Mexico After More Than a Year of Mocking It.” The Times added that the visit was the “latest gamble for Mr. Trump and his struggling campaign.”
The Washington Post weighed in, too, predicting disaster. And CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson smugly assessed that Trump was on his way to humiliation abroad.. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) even feigned concern for Trump’s campaign.
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) August 31, 2016
Trump shocked the political world by announcing the visit on Tuesday night — less than 24 hours ahead of his immigration speech in Arizona.
Though the visit has political risks — President Nieto could try to embarrass him, and Trump could make rhetorical mistakes — the fact that it is happening at all is unquestionably a coup for the Republican nominee. It undercuts Hillary Clinton’s attempt to portray Trump as a toxic racist, and also shows Trump looking the part of a president.
The media clearly understand that, and are determined to undermine Trump as they did Mitt Romney in 2012.
Romney had a firm grasp on foreign policy — he anticipated Russia’s aggression while President Barack Obama mocked his concerns, for example. Yet the media hounded him when he went abroad during the summer of 2012, playing up imaginary foreign policy mistakes, literally shouting at him that he was a failure. “What about your gaffes?” one journalist famously yelled.
They are already trying to do the same with Trump, and are clearly eager to reassure the public that Hillary Clinton, too, will have her turn to meet the Mexican president.
There is only one problem: she has already been to Mexico, and embarrassed herself. In 2009, for example, as the newly-installed Secretary of State, she used a visit to blame American guns for violence in Mexico, setting up Operation Fast and Furious, which ended in the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
This post has been updated to add the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other sources.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.