Expect four years of the exhausting process of fact-checking every damn thing that comes out of President Trump’s mouth, and having him repeat the same lies over and over again. Unfortunately, Senator Franken is likely too busy to write a whole new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Trump edition (as philosopher Aaron James did this year when he managed to rush to print a book extending his previous theory of assholes to Trump: Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump). Still, out of all this mess, there is good news for fact-checkers . . . employment opportunities should be robust for the next four years.
I read a couple of stories about Trump’s boast to Lesley Stahl that after his inauguration, he would immediately get started on his deportation plans.
What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.
I know that Lesley Stahl is not Anderson Cooper, but still, the basic, Journalism 101 follow-up question should have been something like “how did you arrive at ‘two million, it could even be three million’?” because it’s clear to anyone who has paid attention to how Trump speaks that he pulled this number out of his ass. But no. No follow-up question. So now all the other journalists have to work to correct this lie, knowing that the Trump supporters who watched the interview will never read the correct information. Stahl missed the chance to do her job better.
So now the fact-checking is out there, but I found something that I think will be useful to me in the coming months, a CNN story from July 2015 that provides a snapshot of the numbers at that time related to deportations of immigrants with criminal records.
The 2 to 3 million number has already been adequately debunked by The Washington Post, which of course doesn’t mean that Trump will stop repeating it as true. Take a look at the CNN story, though, for a more nuanced picture. Not only is there no support for Trump’s 2-3 million figure, of the immigrants who are classified as “criminals,” many are classified thus using criteria that would not apply to a citizen. An American Immigration Council report states:
Immigrants who experience even the slightest brush with the criminal justice system, such as being convicted of a misdemeanor, can find themselves subject to detention for an undetermined period, after which they are expelled from the country and barred from returning. . . . In other words, for years the government has been redefining what it means to be a “criminal alien,” using increasingly stringent definitions and standards of “criminality” that do not apply to U.S. citizens.
Also, in the coming months, keep in mind that although President Obama did not trumpet the many deportations that happened during his administration, he deported more people than any other president. Although, when it serves him, Trump has been willing to blame Obama (and Clinton, of course) for all of the many “disasters” he says he will fix, he did acknowledge to Fox News in August (quoted here) that Obama has deported large numbers of people using current laws:
“What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing.”
In the coming years, try to do some of your own research and fact-checking, and try to see the biases of your left-leaning news sources as clearly as you can see the biases in the right-leaning news sources. With so much fact-checking work to do, we need all hands on deck.
Rachel E. Hile