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Trump’s national address about the ‘border crisis’ is a fact checker’s nightmare

Wow. That was rough.

Typically when presidents address the nation on prime time TV from the Oval Office, they’re discussing incredibly important issues. It’s where John F. Kennedy told the nation about Russian missiles in Cuba. George W. Bush addressed the nation after the September 11th attacks. Ronald Reagan addressed the Challenger disaster. You know, important things that affect the citizens of the nation as a whole and have a basis in reality.

They generally haven’t been used to promote existential fear about invaders from the southern border in a desperate attempt to gain support for a pointless border wall.

The fact is simple. There is no crisis on the southern border.

According to a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, most people blame Trump and republicans for the current government shutdown, and less than half of the individuals surveyed think that the border wall is necessary. 

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What’s crazy about this whole thing is the ever-changing narrative. Leading up to the midterm election, there was the threat of the migrant caravan that has now made it to the border, though you don’t hear anything about it from ’45 anymore.

Then there was the threat of terrorists embedded in the caravan. Which isn’t a thing.

But lying is commonplace for the Trump administration. According to the Washington Post:

Through the end of 2018, The Washington Post Fact Checker team documented 7,645 false or misleading claims made by Trump since taking office. Of those, 1,130 were about immigration. Claims about foreign policy and trade tied for second, with 822 claims, followed by claims about the economy (768).

Trump has publicly promised at least 212 times that Mexico would pay for the wall, and he’s now falsely insisted five times in just the past three weeks that Mexico will still pay because of the revisions to NAFTA.


And when cornered on the non-issue of migrant caravans, the Trump administration switches to the very real problem that is the opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, 46 people die each day from opioids. But as Axios points out, building a wall does nothing to stop the flow of opioids into the United States.

The thing about walls is that you can tunnel under them. As the Washington Post reported:

Most are rudimentary, hand-dug tunnels that are unfinished, Brown said. In rare instances, however, agents will come upon a “sophisticated tunnel,” with everything from power lines to ventilation systems to concrete flooring. He believes the farthest a tunnel has made it across the U.S. border is about 2,000 feet.

Tunnels can be difficult to detect without sophisticated equipment or intelligence that keeps law enforcement officers one step ahead of the cartels who build them. But there are also some dead giveaways.

Drugs are coming in through ports of entry in trucks, and underground in tunnels, both of which aren’t impeded by a wall. At best, the wall would make it slightly more difficult for traffickers to get drugs into the United States. But more likely, a wall would take away funds from substance dependency programs that could actually help curb the scourge of opioid overdoses.

But Trump isn’t the only liar here. My state’s former governor, Mike Pence, along with Sarah Sanders, are also down for some deception:

In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Pence was asked about a statistic, misleadingly cited by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, that 4,000 “known or suspected terrorists” were caught trying to enter the US illegally as part of the administration’s push for greater security at the southern border. (CNN)

I guess nobody wants to hire Sarah? I wonder why.

What they’re not wrong about is 4000 people getting caught trying to enter the country. But it’s an understatement to say that this statistic is incredibly misleading.

Of the 4000 “known or suspected terrorists” that were apprehended, only 12 were caught at the southern border. Twelve.

CNN also reported that a State Department report for the year 2016 said “There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.”

Trump also said that previous presidents told him that they should have built a wall, and that they support Trump’s efforts to build a wall. That’s also a lie.

The hypocrisy of this entire situation – Trump calling the media the enemy of the people then almost immediately requesting national airtime – is quite remarkable.

The speech

Completely and entirely underwhelming. Nothing new, and the same, tired lies.

The thing about this is that no rational person is against ensuring we have secure borders. But a wall is objectively not the way to go about doing it, for reasons I already mentioned above.

And my favorite reaction:

Here’s a list of fact checks and fact checkers because, honestly, there’s so much:

And on the lighter side of things:

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.




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