The “Republicans seize” formula has become a running joke on the right because it happens every time a news story puts Democrats on the defensive. Yesterday, police revealed that a 24-year-old illegal immigrant had been charged with murder after confessing to placing the body of missing college student Mollie Tibbetts in a cornfield. Last night at a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia, President Trump briefly mentioned the murder, without even using Tibbetts name, in his 70-minute speech. So, naturally, today the NY Times published this story: “After an Immigrant’s Arrest, Trump Seizes on Killing of Mollie Tibbetts, Iowa Student.” Here’s how it opens:

A body believed to be that of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa who vanished a month ago after going for a jog, was found on Tuesday morning, investigators announced, and a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant was charged with first-degree murder.

President Trump, who has repeatedly linked crime to illegal immigration, alluded to the case at a rally Tuesday evening in West Virginia.

“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” Mr. Trump said. “It should’ve never happened. Illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact, but the laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace.”

The fact that Trump mentioned it in passing (the story says he “alluded” to it) somehow justifies a “Trump seizes” headline. CBS News did pretty much the same thing. Their story is headlined: “GOP seizing Mollie Tibbetts murder as political issue.” Here’s the opening of this one:

The disappearance of a well-liked college student from America’s heartland had touched many people since she vanished one month ago while out for a run. But the stunning news that a Mexican man living in the U.S. illegally has allegedly confessed to kidnapping and murdering her thrust the case into the middle of the contentious immigration debate and midterm elections.

President Trump seized on the man’s arrest in the death of Mollie Tibbetts on Tuesday to call the nation’s immigration laws “a disgrace” that will only be fixed by electing more Republicans. Iowa’s Republican governor, facing a tough re-election challenge in November, blasted an immigration system that “allowed a predator like this to live in our community.” And Iowa’s two U.S. senators, both Republicans, called the death a tragedy that “could have been prevented…

CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI-TV reports Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a statement saying in part, “As Iowans, we are heartbroken, and we are angry. We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can bring justice to Mollie’s killer.”

CNN wrote nearly the same story, albeit without the word “seize” in it: “Politicians blame immigration laws for Mollie Tibbetts’ fate.” To be fair, CNN’s main story about the murder, which is currently at the top of their homepage, is headlined: “Mollie Tibbetts case mystified police until a security camera offered a key clue.” The story lays out what happened and how police caught the (alleged) killer. The total number of mentions of Trump in the piece: zero. That’s appropriate because Trump really isn’t the story here.

Why is the media so eager to paint this story into the “Republicans seize” framework? The answer to that can be found in the video clip below. Asked about the murder on CNN, Elizabeth Warren expresses sorrow for Tibbetts’ family and then immediately talks about children taken away from their parents at the border. “Separating a momma from a baby does not make this country safer,” Warren says.

Um, what about the illegal immigrant who separated Tibbetts from her family forever? Can we focus on that for five minutes before you go back to your family separation talking points? Bottom line: This is a stumbling block for Democrats so the knee-jerk liberal media rushes to make Republicans the story.

Update: The Daily Caller points out that the NY Times has been struggling with its headline all morning:

Initially, after editors at The Times learned that an illegal immigrant was the suspect behind her murder, the headline read “Trump Seizes on Killing of College Student, After Undocumented Immigrant’s Arrest.”

After several minor changes over the next two hours, The Times eventually deleted the word “undocumented,” with the current headline reading “Immigrant Is Charged in Mollie Tibbetts Murder in Iowa, and Trump Seizes on Case.”

So they dropped “undocumented” but kept “Trump Seizes.”