I regret to inform you, but late last night, fact checking passed away.
The media's response to President Trump's oval office address, where he advanced his arguments for border security and an end to the government shutdown, officially killed fact checking.
After hours of cable news hosts and pundits questioning whether they should even air the first oval office address of a sitting president of the United States, the networks relented. But they would be ready—armed with a team of fact checkers, ready to triumphantly call out Trump's "lies."
Well, it turns out, the mainstream press doesn't really know what a fact is. Or how arguments work. Let me try to explain: One can use facts and figures to try to persuade others to an argument. It's called a nuanced debate.
Despite the fact Trump didn't say anything false, our arbiters of The Truth™ had to "fact check" him anyway. And … it didn't go well.
The New York Times summarized Trump's address as "Inaccurate Claims and Finger Pointing Over Border Security." Inaccurate typically means false. But nothing Trump said was factually wrong, so the best the Times could come up with is "This is misleading" and "This needs context." Also known as, "this needs Democratic talking points."
But let's take a closer look at the statements declared "False" by the Times.
"Here's what the president said, and how it stacks up against the facts," the Times scolded.
Trump: "The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security."
The Times: "False."
Sadly, the Times doesn't know the difference between fact and opinion. Next time, they should consult with The Dude.
You see, President Trump, in his opinion, thinks the shutdown is the fault of the Democrats because they aren't willing to spend 0.11 percent of the budget toward a barrier on the border that they themselves have voted for before. Democrats, in their opinion, say the shutdown is Trump's fault because he said he would take ownership of a shutdown and because the wall was a campaign promise.
(Note to the Times: This article, published in the Editor's Blog, is opinionated.)
The Times also declared Trump's statement that the wall will be paid for indirectly by the new trade agreement with Mexico as "False," because "this is different" than comments Trump has made before. You'll notice that is not checking the fact of what was said last night.
"Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country," Trump said.
Somehow this was "misleading" to the Times, which concluded Customs and Border Protection apprehend 1,700 people trying to cross the border illegally per day and additional hundreds who are deemed "inadmissible" into the country.
The fact that Chuck Schumer voted for a border fence before, along with other Democrats, also needed "context," like, "twenty-six Senate Democrats—including Mr. Schumer" voted for the border fence in 2006.
The Times also said more "context" is needed for Trump's argument (that word again) that America welcomes lawful immigrants, "but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration" by lowering wages and straining public resources.
The Times once again had to agree that some economists say "immigrants drive down available jobs and wages," but had to add "context" of the tired argument that illegal immigrants are "seeking jobs that American citizens do not want to do."
Trump said 90 percent of heroin floods across the southern border. Again the Times agreed with the actual fact, saying, "Most heroin smuggled into the United States does come through the southwest border."
The Washington Post fact check wasn't any better. The Post claimed Trump did not "accurately describe" that 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought to the United States last month because the Post says there could have been more than 20,000 children detained.
The Post fact checkers also apparently don't read their own paper, which only last week declared there is "a bona fide emergency on the border." Three days later, when Trump says there is a crisis, the fact check declares, "There is no new crisis at the border."
But the fact checkers couldn't get in the way of the facts. The facts once again aligned with Trump's statement: "In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records."
The Times' response: "In the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested over 210,876 people with previous criminal convictions, and another 55,233 people with pending criminal charges."
Math was never really my forte. However, if it checks right, the total arrests of aliens with criminal records should equal 266,109.
The Times' ruling: "This needs context." Criminal aliens commit "a range of offenses," the Times explains. Many were "nonviolent," like one of the most common, "possessing or selling drugs," and "illegal entry."
Not to be outdone, the Washington Post fact check ruled, "The number is right but misleading."
Let's put it in terms the mainstream media would understand. ICE arresting 266,000 illegal aliens with criminal records over the past two years is an apple. Some people at the Times and the Post might tell us it's a banana. You might start to think that it's a banana. But it's not.
It's a crime to illegally cross the border. Fact check: true.