Mainstream outlets have spent the last 24 hours repeating the falsehood that former President Donald Trump will address striking United Auto Workers in Michigan this evening, despite clear evidence to the contrary. Trump will actually be holding a rally at Drake Enterprises, a nonunion manufacturing plant in Macomb County, Michigan, his campaign announced the evening of September 25.
The following morning, Drake Enterprises President Nathan Stemple explained on Fox & Friends First that Trump wanted a place to hold an event and that he — not workers — arranged to host the former president. Jacobin staff writer and labor reporter Alex Press responded to the news by writing on X (formerly Twitter) that “this is an event put on by nonunion employers to weaken a strike.” And UAW President Shawn Fain had criticized Trump’s planned event days earlier, and then again on Tuesday night.
“I find the pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a nonunion business,” Fain said on CNN, making it clear that although there may be union members in attendance, the union itself did not sponsor or endorse the event.
President Joe Biden walked the picket line with striking workers on Tuesday in what was believed to be a first for a sitting president.
Regardless, since September 26, mainstream print outlets have continued to portray Trump as standing with the union and supporting the strike.
- The New York Times wrote that “Donald Trump is expected to speak to union members in Detroit instead of participating in the second Republican primary debate,” but didn’t mention that Drake Enterprises is nonunion. The Times also rehashed the narrative that unions oppose Biden’s push for electric vehicles, writing that “labor leaders say [E.V.s] will depend on non-union jobs and require fewer workers.” As Fain has made clear, the UAW is not against electric vehicles or green energy and is instead fighting for what they call a “just transition” that avoids a “race to the bottom."
- A USA Today headline described Trump and Biden’s “dueling trips to Michigan for UAW strike.” The piece added that Trump “will hold a rally with current and former union members in Clinton Township, Mich.,” and “will try to speak past UAW's leadership, led by president Shawn Fain,” but failed to note that the former president’s event will be at a nonunion plant.
- The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump “is to address current and former auto workers Wednesday” but didn’t mention that Drake Enterprises is nonunion.
- NPR wrote that “Trump's not expected to join a union picket line,” also failing to inform readers that he was essentially doing the exact opposite by bolstering a nonunion shop. The story also sanitized Trump’s well-documented anti-union history, characterizing it instead as “his mixed experience with union labor.”
- ABC News misled readers about the event, writing that Trump’s rally was an attempt to “court unionized employees with remarks outside Detroit.”
Some broadcast news programs also mischaracterized Trump’s event by omitting or downplaying the fact that Drake Enterprises is nonunion.
- NBC’s Nightly News insinuated that Trump would also speak to striking union autoworkers like Biden did without making it clear whom he would be addressing. In the introduction to the program, anchor Lester Holt said that Biden’s “show of support” for striking autoworkers is “just one day before former President Trump is also set to speak to autoworkers.” While introducing the full segment on Biden’s visit, Holt said that it was “underscored by former President Trump’s plans to visit tomorrow,” without making clear that Trump is scheduled to speak at a non-union manufacturer.
- On NBC’s Today, co-anchor Savannah Guthrie said during the show’s introduction that Trump will “address union workers today.” She later said that “Trump is also set to address striking workers; he’s traveling to Michigan today.” Correspondent Maggie Vespa added that Trump’s event was at a nonunion shop.
There was never any reason for mainstream outlets to give Trump the benefit of the doubt here. Media Matters previously compiled a long history of Trump’s opposition to organized labor. And as The Messenger wrote in a story published Wednesday morning, “As president, Trump weakened the power of government unions, his administration proposed eliminating collective bargaining for Postal Service workers, and he filled his administration with Republicans who had opposed unions throughout their careers.”