Final Assignment

Final Assignment:  Fake News Comparison and Analysis

For our final assignment this semester in History of the Information Age, I chose to examine a speech given by Donald Trump on the subject of illegal immigration, a politico factcheck on his speech, and an article in The Washington Post in response to Trump’s speech. 

First, lets review the speech, as everything else is based upon that.  Donald Trump’s gave an address on immigration which aired on January 8th, 2019.  In this speech, he is trying to defend funding for a border wall and goes into great detail about why the wall would be beneficial due to a presumed crisis at the border.  Trump declares that those who illegally cross the southern border of the United States bring with them drugs and crime and that the communities that will suffer from these immigrations will be African American or poorer communities.  Trump uses statistics such as: three hundred citizens per week die of heroin overdose, and that ninety percent of all heroin enters the United States at the Southern border.  There is no doubt that the U.S. is in a state of emergency with regards to the opioid crisis, the statistics given by the president are a bit misleading according to Politico Fact checking.  While most of the heroin does enter the country via the southern border, it comes through legal ports of entry and not with the immigrants who enter illegally.  But his numbers with regards to the average lives lost per week from overdose were accurate. 

Trump also declares that the wall would cost $5.7 billion dollars and that at the request of Democrats would not be made of concrete and instead be built of steel.  He goes on by saying that the Democrats used to support a border wall but that they “changed their mind[s] only after I was elected president.” Again, according to Politico, these statements are incredibly misleading.  Democrats did not ask for the wall to be made of steel, instead the overall opinion of the Democrats was that the material didn’t matter.  With regards to if the Democrats ever supported a wall, Donald Trump’s statement that they changed their minds is misleading because they did support beefing up the border and the proposal used to be a seven hundred miles of fence, but not a wall.

With all political speeches, one expects a certain amount of misinformation.  The good news is that the internet provides a platform in which to quickly check on the facts being spewed at us in any format.    The problem is, who is fact checking the fact checkers?  In an attempt to check the validity of Politico, I discovered that they do lean to the left with regards to their political bias.  They were founded by John F. Harris and Jim Vand Hei who both had previously worked at The Washington Post.  It does appear that they strive to be as accurate as possible.  This research process can go on forever where you research who researched the fact checkers, how they came up with their opinion and how.  Eventually you come full circle and realize that you can never figure out what is truly accurate and the truth can never be defined. 

It is so hard to define the truth when politicians, corporations, and news organizations do their best to sway the information.  When researching the article from The Washington Post entitled “There is no Immigration Crisis, and These Charts Prove It,” it becomes increasingly clear that they are just as guilty as the president in misleading their audience.  Their article claims that they can prove that there is no immigration crisis through charts, but the charts they provide are strictly centered around data from Texas; not the entire country.  Not only that, but when they claim that illegal immigration is at a forty -year low, they are only including the immigrants who are being apprehended at the border and ignoring those who make it through undetected.  The Washington Post, according to allsides.com leans to the left as well.  They were founded in 1877 but are currently owned by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and very outspoken against Trump. 

When you start to research the sources, leanings, and history of the institutions and politicians that are providing the news, you end up diving into a blackhole of confusing never-ending information that is hard to decipher.  As hard it may be, it is increasingly important to know where your information is coming from.  Unfortunately, the truth is difficult to find and we may have entered into a time where determining facts becomes impossible.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “2018 National Drug Threat Assessment.” Dea.gov. October, 2018. Accessed April 19, 2019. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-11/DIR-032-18%202018%20NDTA%20final%20low%20resolution.pdf#page=31

Hesson, Ted. “Fact Check: Trump’s Speech on Border ‘Crisis’.” Politico.com. January 8, 2019. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/08/fact-check-trumps-speech-on-the-border-crisis-1069539

Ingraham, Christopher. “There is no Immigration Crisis, and These Charts Prove It.” The Washington Post. June 21, 2018. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/21/theres-no-immigration-crisis-and-these-charts-prove-it/?utm_term=.8b4b71ce6519

“Media Bias: Washington Post.” Media Bias/Fact Check: The Most Comprehensive Media Bias Resource. Accessed April 19, 2019. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/washington-post/

“Politico Media Bias Rating is Lean Left.” Allside.com. February 1, 2018. Accessed on April 19th, 2019. https://www.allsides.com/news-source/politico-media-bias

Trump, Donald. “Donald Trump’s Speech on Immigration Crisis.” By Politico Staff. January 8, 2019. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/08/trump-immigration-speech-full-text-1088710

One Reply to “Final Assignment”

  1. I like your point about the difficulties associated with “fact-checking the fact-checkers.” In many ways, it is worrisome that there could be additional bias or narratives associating with fact-checking in and of itself. While the Internet is a great tool, unfettered (partially unfettered?) access to so many resources provides a slew of problems (or even a burden) associated with parsing through so much information.

    The concept also reminds me of “truth” versus “fact” discussions that we have had in class, which even further complicates the subject.

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