Julie Mastrine

Former President Donald Trump’s remarks at a rally near Dayton, Ohio, this past weekend fueled media bias across the spectrum. 

While speaking about China undercutting American manufacturing, Trump stated that it would be a “bloodbath” if he lost the election. While many news outlets on the left framed his comment to mean that it’d be a bloodbath for the country, others on the right framed him as meaning it would be bad for the industry/economy.

Trump: ‘A bloodbath for the country’

Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said while discussing manufacturing that there would be a “bloodbath” if he were not reelected. (Dayton, the site of the rally, was affected by 2023’s United Auto Workers’ strike). 

If you’re listening, President Xi — and you and I are friends, but he understands the way I deal — those big monster car manufacturing plants that you’re building in Mexico right now, and you think you’re going to get that, you’re going to not hire Americans, and you’re going to sell the cars as — now, we’re going to put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you’re not going to be able to sell those guys if I get elected.

At this point, the crowd started cheering, and Trump raised his voice. 

Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s gonna be the least of it. It’s gonna be a bloodbath for the country. That’ll be the least of it. But they’re not going to sell those cars. They’re building massive factories.

Trump then continued discussing car manufacturing. Here are Trump’s full remarks, which you can watch here.

That wasn’t Trump’s only controversial quote from the rally. The former president also made remarks about unauthorized migrants, including migrant prisoners, which you can watch here.

He stated:

If I had prisons that were teeming with MS-13 and all sorts of people that they had to take care of for the next 50 years. If you call them people, I don’t know if you call them people. In some cases they’re not people, in my opinion. But I’m not allowed to say that because the radical left says that’s a terrible thing to say. They say, ‘you have to vote against him because, did you hear what he said about humanity?’ I’ve seen humanity, and these are bad, these are animals, OK? And we have to stop it. We can’t have another Laken [Riley]. We have so many people being hurt so badly and being killed. They’re sending their prisoners to see us. They’re bringing them right to the border, and they’re dropping them off, and we’re allowing them to come in. And these are tougher than anybody we’ve got in the country. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of them.

Trump invoked Laken Riley, the nursing student who was murdered last month in Georgia. An unauthorized immigrant was arrested on suspicion of the murder.

Media Coverage of Trump’s “Bloodbath” Remarks Shows Bias

Several politicians, pundits, and news outlets picked up the quote, often focusing on the “bloodbath” line and framing it in different ways.

Generally, media coverage from the left framed the “bloodbath” quote as Trump talking about what would happen if he lost the election overall, while coverage from the right was more likely to state that Trump was referring to the automotive industry specifically. 

An NBC News (Lean Left bias) headline said, “Trump says there will be a ‘bloodbath’ if he loses the election”; The New York Times (Lean Left bias) ran the headline, “Trump Says Some Migrants Are ‘Not People’ and Predicts a ‘Blood Bath’ if He Loses.”

The Associated Press (Lean Left) ran the headline, “Trump ramps up dark rhetoric in Ohio stump speech for Senate candidate Bernie Moreno.” Its lead said that Trump “warned of a ‘bloodbath’ if he loses in November as he campaigned for Senate candidate Bernie Moreno in Ohio.” The Guardian (Lean Left) ran the headline: “Trump predicts 'bloodbath' if he loses election and claims 'Biden beat Obama'.

Compare this coverage to The New York Post (Lean Right bias), which said, “Trump warns of ‘bloodbath’ in auto industry if he loses, says violent migrants are ‘not people’ but ‘animals’.” Breitbart (Right bias) called the coverage and discourse around Trump’s comments a “hoax” and “dishonest,” writing, “It is abundantly clear from the entire quote that Trump was talking about the condition of the auto industry and economy as a whole, but the establishment media and Biden administration have continued to take it out of context, asserting that Trump is forecasting bloody violence throughout the country if he is not elected.”

Meanwhile, Forbes (Center bias) ran the headline, “An Even Darker Trump: Warns Of ‘Bloodbath’ If Not Elected And Calls Some Migrants ‘Animals’ And ‘Not People.’ The Daily Mail (Right bias), on the other hand, labeled the criticism a “liberal media meltdown.” 

At least one media outlet on the right, The Federalist (Right), even called the media’s coverage election interference, running the headline, “Corporate Media Advance Their 2024 Election Interference With Trump ‘Bloodbath’ Lies.”

Other voices on the left also emphasized their view that Trump was talking generally, rather than about the auto industry specifically. 

On CNN’s (Online News rated Lean Left) State of the Union show, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats “have to win this election because he’s even predicting a bloodbath. What does that mean? He’s going to exact a bloodbath? There’s something wrong here.” Watch it here. 

Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler said on MSNBC's (Left bias) “Inside” that Trump’s comment was an “endorsement of political violence.”

On Truth Social, Trump rejected the criticism from “The Fake News Media” and “their Democrat Partners in the destruction of our Nation,” saying his use of the word “bloodbath” was “simply referring to imports allowed by Crooked Joe Biden, which are killing the automobile industry.”

‘Animals’: Trump’s Rhetoric in the Spotlight

The controversy surrounding Trump’s “they’re not people” comment is rooted in dissonance between defenders of a single comment and critics of a broader narrative.

While supporters of Trump might say that Trump was solely referring to violent criminals, Trump’s critics argue he employs a broader pattern of dehumanizing rhetoric about migrants. Most recently, this included the former presidents’ assertion that unauthorized migrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

Thus, Trump’s supporters and critics end up talking past one another, because their complaints are not directly contradictory. One side focuses on Trump’s individual comments, while the other argues there is a broader pattern of dehumanizing rhetoric directed at a group of people. Both are doomed to yell at each other online to no avail. 

‘Bloodbath’: The Controversy is the Point

While the speaker of a quote has the ultimate say over their intentions, Trump’s “bloodbath for the country” line was interpreted as referring to either “car manufacturing” or “the country.”

This vagueness creates an opportunity for Trump’s opponents and supporters to come to separate, convenient conclusions. Opponents get a quote making Trump seem fascistic, and supporters get to accuse the left media of unjustly smearing Trump. Since the dilemma hinges on Trump’s intentions, and the sides are also split on trusting him, both sides can believe themselves justified.

Reading news across the political spectrum can help us to see how the same comment is framed differently. AllSides’ balanced newsfeed ensures you never miss a perspective.

Joseph Ratliff is a Content Designer and News Editor at AllSides. He has a Lean Left bias. 

Graphics and edits by Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings at AllSides (Lean Right bias).

Reviewed by Henry A. Brechter, editor in chief (Center bias), and news assistants Johnathon Held and Malayna Bizier (both Right bias).