Media Analysis: AP’s “Protection” Racket

The concept of ‘protection’ is a powerful rhetorical weapon.

It’s a word that elicits an immediate emotional level response. It appeals to a paternal/maternal instinct. It creates abstract imagery of the downtrodden, vulnerable and victimised. When it is wielded by the politician or the polemicist, it becomes a broad sword with which to slay opposition, quell debate and dominate policy narrative.

In the Associated Press article entitled; “Admin revokes blocked program to protect immigrant parents”, the author refers to “protect”, or variants, “protection” and “protected”, a total of 6 times in an 8 paragraph piece with headline. When tied in with other rhetorical methods, a particular picture is painted which reveals an author working more like an extended apologist arm of the Obama administration, rather than an independent and unbiased reporter.

An Obama-era immigration program intended to protect parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents from deportation has been formally cancelled, fulfilling a key campaign promise from President Donald Trump, the Homeland Security Department announced late Thursday.

The “U.S citizens” being referred to here are colloquially known as ‘anchor babies’. A situation in which an illegal immigrant will give birth on American soil and by virtue of geography, that child is instantly recognised as an American citizen. ‘Protecting parents’ is a phrase used on more than one occasion in this article. Indeed, parents are referred to twice before the ‘illegal’ status of the parents is referred to at all. Belatedly, in the third paragraph, but only in reference to the alleged opposition argument to the so-called ‘protection’ program;

Republicans decried the effort at “backdoor amnesty” and argued that Obama overstepped his authority by protecting a specific class of immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Back to the second paragraph as its one that requires closer attention;

The revocation came on the fifth anniversary of another effort that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

Another way of framing this situation would be; “On the fifth anniversary of a memo designed to subvert U.S immigration law”.

Or perhaps; “On the fifth anniversary of President Obama preventing immigration officers from doing their job”.

Again, the use of “protected” is stark, as it’s in reality ‘protecting’ criminals, by definition of their illegal status, from the law itself. A reality highlighted in the following;

The protection program for parents, like the one for young immigrants, was created with a policy memo during the Obama administration.

The “protection program for parents”, sounds alot nicer than the ‘protection of illegal immigrants’. At no point in the article are the illegal immigrants even referred to as such.

Both programs required that participants meet certain conditions, including not having a criminal history.

An interesting sentence, since by definition, by the act of entering a country illegally, the immigrant concerned as already attained a criminal status. This is the nature of illegality. A trespasser is guilty of the crime of trespass, the moment they commit it. The same applies to immigrants defined by the illegal action of their arrival.

As part of the expansion to protect immigrant parents living in the United States illegally, the Obama administration also sought to provide the young immigrants with work permits good for three years at a time.

A number of dynamics are at play in this paragraph. Firstly, ‘revoking the memo’ is used in lieu of ‘enforcing the law’. Second, the author again refers to the Obama ‘memo’ as an “effort”. An “effort” that keeps “most immigrants protected”. Again, in reality, it “protects” only those who should not be there, from the law, and subverts the border sovereignty of the United States.

Thirdly and finally, the use of “targeted by stepped up efforts”, when placed in the context of the piece as its written, around the argument of “parents” and “immigrants” being protected, with the illegal nature of this protection underplayed as much as possible, is used merely to provoke a sense of victimisation and potential outrage in opposition to the memo being revoked.


Cleverly written with good use of interweaving themes. “Protection” becomes somewhat repetitive and thus, the intention of the author becomes clearly illuminated fairly early on.

Fake News Score;

3.5 out of 5

Article originally posted on Rhetorical/Reason

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