Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post published a misleading article headlined “Trump’s presidency may be making Latinos sick,” by the Post’s William Wan and Lindsey Bever.

Wan and Bever wrote, “A study published Friday using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the risk of premature birth was higher than expected among Latina women following Trump’s election. The new study is particularly powerful, experts say, because unlike ailments such as depression or stress that can be hard to quantify, births come with hard data.”

Yet buried deep into the story — in the 13th paragraph — is the disclaimer that the study, which looked at births from 2009 to just the first eight months following Trump’s election, does not offer any definitive proof of these claims.

“The study’s authors — public health researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Stony Brook University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco — pointed out that their findings show the premature birth increase occurred after Trump’s election but do not prove it was caused by the election or the anti-immigration policies proposed and enforced shortly afterward,” Wan and Bever claim.

The article makes no distinction between whether the Latino immigrants entered legally or illegally, a key factor in Trump’s policymaking. The president has repeatedly stated he is not anti-immigrant but that he is opposed to illegal immigration and seeks to stop the humanitarian crisis at the southern border that is exacerbated by immigration loopholes Congress refuses to fix.

The Post article mentioned additional “studies on the psychological effects of Trump’s child separation policy,” without mentioning that illegal immigrant child separation took place under the Obama administration or that all U.S. citizens, when arrested for a crime, are also at risk of being separated from their children.

The Post also didn’t mention that Latino support was higher for Trump in 2016 (28 percent) than it was for Mitt Romney in 2012 (27 percent).

The Post article quoted four “experts” supporting the inconclusive study’s claims, it included just one dissenting voice:

“Scott Sullivan, a maternal-fetal medicine professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, who was not involved in the study, cautioned against blaming Trump’s election.

‘The study doesn’t show that. It shows a time frame, but a lot of things happen in a time frame in a country as large as ours,’ Sullivan said, noting there could be a number of alternative causes, including changes to insurance coverage that could have hindered access to adequate prenatal care.”

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