Accuracy in Media

In their coverage of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of President Trump’s travel restrictions on countries with major terrorism problems, The New York Times reporters Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear didn’t offer any context about the countries’ problems with criminality, focusing instead on the fact that some of the countries have large Muslim populations. The Times also failed to provide historical context about similar travel restrictions in a law approved by the Obama administration.

As Politifact reports: “The Obama-signed law contains provisions that restrict travel to the United States for people who lived in or visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria since March 2011. They must have a visa to enter the United States; they can’t use what is known as the Visa Waiver Program, which allows 90-day U.S. visits to other foreign visitors. The law was soon expanded by Obama’s Department of Homeland Security to cover Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. They were identified in the agency’s announcement as “countries of concern,” a phrase used in the law.”

The Times makes no mention of the Obama administration’s approval of tight restrictions from countries with terrorist hotbeds, and it also makes no mention that the overwhelming majority of Muslims globally live in other countries that are unaffected by the Trump administration’s travel restrictions.

“In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Mr. Trump’s third and most considered entry ban, issued as a presidential proclamation in September,” Liptak and Shear write. ‘It initially restricted travel from eight nations, six of them predominantly Muslim — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela and North Korea. Chad was later removed from the list.”

Rather than offering context about the fact that two out of the remaining seven countries aren’t majority-Muslim, the Times simply glossed over the fact that “Hawaii, several individuals and a Muslim group challenged the latest ban’s limits on travel from the predominantly Muslim nations; they did not object to the portions concerning North Korea and Venezuela. They said the latest ban, like the earlier ones, was tainted by religious animus and not adequately justified by national security concerns.”

The Times offers no additional voice to counteract the intellectual inconsistency of those plaintiffs cited; their tacit approval of travel restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela, countries that are not majority-Muslim, suggests that the Trump administration was looking beyond just religion when issuing its constitutionally-sound travel policy.

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