Accuracy in Media

A New York Times fact-check on President Trump’s statements about the success elsewhere in the world of border walls revealed more about the paper’s bias than about the president’s claims.

The point of  Palko Karasz’s piece, “Fact Check” Trump’s Tweet on Border Walls in Europe” – subhead: “President Trump said that border walls were going up around the world and that European walls built since 2015 were considered ‘close to 100 percent successful” – was to measure the accuracy of Trump tweet.

That tweet read: “There are now 77 major or significant walls built around the world, with 45 countries planning or building walls. Over 800 miles of walls have been built in Europe since only 2015. They have all been recognized as close to 100 percent successful. Stop the crime at our Southern Border!”

The claim was judged “misleading” because only 70 walls have been built, and the rest are in various stages of planning or construction, The Times noted.

Also, it was noted, “What Mr. Trump may think of as a ‘big beautiful wall,’ whether made of concrete or steel slats, would not fit the definition in Europe,” where “most of the walls he referred to … are, in fact, different styles of fences with masonry foundations.”

And not all those walls were built to keep out immigrants, the Times pointed out, even though this is not mentioned in Trump’s tweet.

“Countries like Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungry and Slovenia have built walls since 2015 to quell the flow of migrants arriving mainly from the Middle East via the Balkan Route,” Karasz wrote. “But Ukraine and the Baltic States that share borders with Russia have started raising barriers to mark their territories in response to perceived threats of invasion from their larger neighbor.”

It then quoted a purported expert on walls saying, “Almost a third of the walls in the world are designed to keep the neighbor out,” a statement that does nothing to address their effectiveness.

It then asserts, puzzlingly, that “Much like the desert terrain along the United States border with Mexico, the perilous seas, not walls, have been the main obstacle for people trying to get to Europe.”

In fact, the desert terrain has enabled illegal immigration, not slowed it, on the US’ southwestern border.

But because it has seas rather than desert, the Times wrote, “The Continent has gone beyond building walls to impede the arrival of undocumented migrants.” It has, instead, instituted naval patrols and surveillance on the Mediterranean and has begun to “work with countries like Libya, Morocco and Turkey to try to deter migrants from attempting deadly sea crossings.”

As a result of walls, sea patrols and other measures, crossings were down 25 percent in 2018 compared to the year before – and were the lowest in five years, the story noted.

“Still, far-right politicians like Prime Minister Victor Orban of Hungary have promoted the specter of an impending migration crisis, accompanied by xenophobic rhetoric, to justify funds for border protection,” The Times wrote.

Finally, it contended walls don’t work because people get hurt or killed trying to traverse them. It quoted a report from the Transnational Institute, “a research and advocacy” organization, that said, “The boosting and militarization of border security has led to a higher death toll for forcibly displaced persons.”

Virtually no one who appears at the U.S. border has been forcibly displaced.

Finally, it claims Elisabeth Vallet, a researcher from Canada, said, “she could not think of historical examples of walls that work.”

But after 55,000 illegal immigrants entered Israel and Egypt between 2010 and 2012, resulting in “skyrocketing” amounts of rapes and murders, Israel built a wall on its border.

By 2016, only 11 immigrants had breached the wall. By 2017, after it was the height was increased, “there was not one illegal immigrant that made it through the southern border into Israel,” said David Rubin, the former mayor of Shiloh, Israel. “It works.”

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