Bias in the News: Washington Post edition

Regarding illegal border crossings and separating children from their parents, Salvador Rizzo of the Washington Post’s fact checker concluded with this:

The doublespeak coming from Trump and top administration officials on this issue is breathtaking, not only because of the sheer audacity of these claims but also because they keep being repeated without evidence. Immigrant families are being separated at the border not because of Democrats and not because some law forces this result, as Trump insists. They’re being separated because the Trump administration, under its zero-tolerance policy, is choosing to prosecute border-crossing adults for any offenses.

The Trump administration owns this family-separation policy, and its spin deserves Four Pinocchios.

This is an interesting conclusion, putting all the blame of separating families on the Trump administration. Let’s example the evidence as laid out in the article itself and see the bias for ourselves.

The 1997 federal consent decree coupled with the 2016 9th circuit appeals court forces the government to do one of the following with illegal immigrants:

  1. Separate children from detained parents after 20 days.
  2. Release parents from detention.
  3. Immediate deportation.

It’s safe to say that opponents would never consider option #3, even if it were legally possible. Moreover, the TVPRA law requires that certain children cannot be detained at all and cannot be deported. For these families, #3 is not even possible. Let’s set that option aside. The only way left to keep these children together with their parents is to release them all immediately.

The article claims that the Trump administration is not required to follow #1. It could always follow #2.

Children continue to be released to their relatives or to shelters. But since the zero-tolerance policy took effect, parents as a rule are being prosecuted. Any conviction in those proceedings would be grounds for deportation.

The article strongly takes the stance that children should be kept with their parents above any other consideration. Notice the implication here: parents (not just dangerous people) will be deported if the zero-tolerance status quo continues (children are separated from their parents). The article is pushing for prosecutions to cease, prosecutions that would lead to deportations. Thus the article is primarily pushing for legitimate deportations to cease. Not only does the article not suggest other possible solutions, but it implies that the only solution is to release the parents, confirming what I have written.

Granted, the administration has not written regulations or policy documents that advertise, “Hey, we’re going to separate families.” But that’s the inevitable consequence, as Nielsen and other Trump administration officials acknowledge.

This admission is vitally important to show the bias. Family separation is the inevitable result of prosecutions, as everyone agrees. The Trump administration is rated as maximum liars because the article states that it has the alternative to not enforce the law. Indeed, this is the only way that parents would not be separated from their children.

Moreover, this is a blatant equivocation fallacy. There is no official written policy, but that there is instead an implicit policy. This implicit policy is not actually a policy, it is a consequence of other factors, including policies and laws.

“We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”
— Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

The president and top administration officials say U.S. laws or court rulings are forcing them to separate families that are caught trying to cross the southern border.

These claims are false.

The author wants to smear the Secretary despite the complete factual accuracy of information in the quote. There is no official written policy of separating families at the border. This is just plain fact.

This article is pushing for the Chief Executive of the United States to selectively enforce the law. Enforcing the law is the duty of the Executive branch and selectively enforcing laws is highly controversial.[1] When someone does not consider unethical behaviors as possible actions, we call them ethical, not liars.[2] The accusation of being a liar is thus nothing more than a cheap, politically biased attack.

Don’t buy this? Remember that the 9th circuit court of appeals is the most liberal leaning court in America. As shown above, it is this ruling that prevents the Trump administration from keeping children in detention with their parents.[3] It is only because of the liberal court ruling that this option is unavailable. Yet this is the very claim that the article claimed was false:

“Because of the Flores consent decree and a 9th Circuit Court decision, ICE can only keep families detained together for a very short period of time.”
— Attorney General Jeff Sessions

This is straightforward bias, without any attempt to hide it. It’s ludicrously transparent. The statement from AG Jeff Sessions is obviously completely true by the evidence laid out in the article itself.

The article is pushing for an end to legitimate deportations and calling the Trump administration maximum liars (despite not having actually lied) in order to pursue that goal. That is bias.

[1] If the answer to the question “Should Trump enforce our nations laws selectively for personal political gain?” is “No”, then it is political bias to claim that he should selectively enforce laws in this circumstance.

[2] Given the well publicized personal faults of the President, we should be encouraging ethical behavior, not discouraging it to further biased political goals.

[3] As per the article, 85% of separated children are placed directly with a close family member already in the country legally. Only 15% of children truly have no destination and not all of them are accompanied by their parents. The 9th circuit ruling prevents these from being kept with their parents while the parents go through legal proceedings.

One Comment

  1. honeycomb

    We (Heritage Americans) are at War .. we are being invaded and replaced in a cold .. or soft .. war of genocide against its very inhabitants.

    And the Media is 100% in favor of us losing.

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