A Washington Post story blistering the Trump administration for supposedly denying passports to American citizens who are Hispanic was ripped for inaccuracies in a new report.
A report in the Huffington Post said The Washington Post “withheld key data” and “mischaracterized information.”
On Aug. 29, The Washington Post wrote a story claiming that federal authorities are “accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Latinos along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.”
As a result of the story, which was widely reprinted, the Trump administration was vilified in pieces such as a Rolling Stone column headlined, “How Many More Racist Trump Policies Will America Normalize?”
The issue is real. Along the border, cases of midwives selling fraudulent documents has been an issue that stretches back to the administrations of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. In fact, a 2008 story in The Washington Post noted issues with birth certificate fraud go back to 1967.
That historial perspective was not noted in the initial Washington Post story, but was added in an editor’s note issued later.
But what the Huffington Post found most disturbing was the fact that the initial Washington Post story talked about a trend without any data. When numbers finally arrived, they contradicted the Washington Post’s claim of a “crackdown” and were not published.
“The number of denials steadily dropped, from a peak of 1,465 in 2015 to 971 last year. As of last month, the State Department appeared to be on pace to end 2018 with still fewer denials than last year. The total rejections in these cases since Trump took office number fewer than 1,600 — not thousands,” the Huffington Post reported.
When the numbers were provided, they still did not appear in the Washington Post story. Instead, the Post used percentages to make its case, and not raw numbers.
When Fox News investigated, it was told by the State Department that The Washington Post got the story wrong.
“The facts don’t back up The Washington Post’s reporting. This is an irresponsible attempt to create division and stoke fear among American citizens while attempting to inflame tensions over immigration,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“Under the Trump administration, domestic passport denials for so called ‘midwife cases’ are at a six-year low. The reporting is a political cheap shot,” she said.
The Washington Post also illustrated its claims by focusing on the late Dr. Jorge Treviño, who was linked to some cases of passport denial — cases that were ultimately resolved and were largely attributed to deficiencies in office operations, not intent.
Treviño’s family, which was not quoted in the initial Washington Post story but was mentioned in revised versions, was outraged.
“We don’t know and have never heard, before this article came out, of anyone from his office doing anything illegal like this or of anyone forging his signature or using his name to do something like this,” Treviño’s daughter, Marianna Treviño Wright, said to the Huffington Post.
“For this to surface three years after he’s dead … unless the State Department or the lawyers are going to produce the affidavit, it might as well be a fairy tale,” she said.
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