Accuracy in Media

When it comes to reporting on immigrant detention centers and the Trump administration, the mainstream media has been lackluster and mistake-prone. Yet the media continued to report on immigrant detention centers and attempted to blame the Trump administration for the practice, although the practice began under the Obama administration.

French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the United States had the world’s highest rate of children in detention and had cited a United Nations study. The report claimed that the Trump administration detained over 100,000 children in detention centers after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Reuters also reported on the study and echoed similar sentiments.

However, AFP and Reuters articles were debunked when it was revealed that the data came from 2015 and not from 2016 to the present day. Meaning, the study’s data came from detentions under the Obama administration, not the Trump administration.

Both AFP and Reuters retracted their articles, although the original articles received significant attention on social media before retraction. AFP said in a statement on Twitter:

“AFP is withdrawing this story. The author of the report has clarified that his figures do not represent the number of children currently in migration-related US detention, but the total number of children in migration-related US detention in 2015. We will delete the story.”

Last year, the media criticized the Trump administration for keeping children behind fences in detention centers when a photograph went viral. But the Associated Press debunked that narrative when it noted that the Associated Press took those photos in 2014 about a detention center in Nogales, Arizona, which meant that the policy was under the Obama administration.

This was yet another example of the media’s insistence on specific narratives, without verifying or fact-checking these claims before publishing them.

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