Fact Checking the Fact-Checker

It has become commonplace for so-called ‘fact-checkers’ to race into print attempting to debunk presidential statements – especially those of President Trump. This should not be a problem if the fact-checkers were unbiased, but that unfortunately does not appear to be the case.

The morning after President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee attacked the veracity of Trump’s statements. Among several statements made by the president, the following one on immigration drew their analysis: “By finally enforcing our immigration laws we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.” 

They wrote, “Extensive research shows noncitizens are not more prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are not criminal aliens or aggravated felons.” That is a favorite tactic of defenders of illegal aliens. By referring to all immigrants – most of whom are legal and were screened to exclude those with criminal records, the disproportionately large share of illegal aliens with criminal records is hidden. Trump was not expressing concern about legal immigrants, but rather about those illegally in the country. Because illegal aliens are more likely than U.S. citizens to be in state and local prisons (as well as federal prisons) doing a better job at keeping them from entering the country is indeed aimed a making our communities safer. FAIR’s study documenting this fact is here.

The WaPo fact checkers go on to disparage Trump’s reference to saving billions of dollars through deterring illegal immigration. They attribute Trump’s claim to a FAIR research study (which I researched) that put the estimated annual fiscal burden from illegal immigration at $113 billion. The fact checkers dismiss that finding by noting that some of that cost is for classes for non-English speakers. They write, “…the enrollment number doesn’t tell you anything about the actual citizenship status of students.” While that is true, that statement implies that the costs of educating the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens has no connection to the fiscal burden placed on the U.S. public as a result of the parent’s illegal presence in the country. That is an opinion, not a fact.

Do we need fact checking for fact-checkers? Maybe so if they write for the WaPo.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    All anyone needs to know about the Washington Post is that it is owned by the CEO and founder of Amazon, Mr. Bezos, who has become a billionaire from shipping manufacturing overseas and from the cheap importation of cheap foreign labor. A recent study about Amazon revealed its exploitative and abusive working conditions and one manager of white collar workers said all the white collar workers he knew at the company had cried at work at least once at work. The Washington Post is nothing more than Pravda for the open-borders, ship jobs overseas elite in this country and Trump is a threat to their agenda.

  2. avatar

    Thomas Friedman of the NY Times has written another column, still flogging his dead horse of globalism and open borders. His authority for this column is none other than Tony Blair, who insists yet again that Brexit and Trump voters are simply not as smart as he is. Never mind that Blair is the reason the once formidable Labour party in Britain has been reduced to an also ran, something the Democrats in this country seem to be intent on with their continuing pursuit of identity politics. Yet Friedman says more of the same is the cure for what ails us.

    He claims NAFTA was a success even though the trade deficits and job losses were dismissed as not going to happen. He also claims that all this free trade has brought us 70 years of “peace”. I seem to recall more than a few conflicts during that time, and quite a few going on now. Did immigration bring peace to Europe or did it bring terrorist attacks and sexual assaults? Why should people have to worry that a speeding vehicle might mow them down on a holiday. France says that they have at least five thousand people that they should have under 24 hour watch but they don’t have the resources to do it.

    • avatar

      LOL NAFTA A Success???

      Its like saying blowing up a bridge improves traffic flow…

      Is there a secret open border policy to systematically completely destroy America???