In his March 4 story "National Council of La Raza leader calls Barack Obama 'deporter-in-chief'," Politico reporter Reid Epstein repeated a dubious claim from unspecified "activists" to stand without offering any clarification for readers.
"By April, Obama will have overseen more than 2 million deportations, activists say, far more than any previous president," Epstein wrote. Any number of clarifications could have followed, including:
- One classification of deportations, removals, have reached record numbers, mostly by including border apprehensions that would not have counted in previous administrations.
- Total deportations under Obama, including those from the interior of the United States lag behind those of previous administrations, although removals have increased.
- President Obama has called deportation statistics "a little deceptive" because most of the increase has come from apprehensions on the border, not from the interior.
- While removals have increased under Obama, those originating from the interior of the United States have declined by 40 percent since he took office.
Epstein's decision to not offer any clarification of a "record deportation" claim that has long been controversial contrasts with his decision three months ago to clarify a claim made by Crystal Wright, a conservative blogger who has been critical of President Obama's support for legalization.
In that story, "White House vetted questioners for Joe Biden's Skype chat," Epstein wrote:
"Wright, whose latest blog entry said Obama 'may be America's worst' president, said she wasn't bothered by the White House vetting her before questioning Biden because it's her understanding that that's how Obama interacts with the press.
"'I don't think it's any different from what they do to the White House press corps,' she said. 'They pre-identify who they call on and they ask reporters to submit the questions in advance.'
"When Obama holds press conferences, he typically has a pre-selected list of reporters to call on, but the reporters do not share the questions with the White House."
Epstein ought to have a better idea of how White House press conferences work than Wright. Maybe he's not as attuned to the labyrinths of immigration statistics. But with President Obama, ICE, and DHS all offering their own clarifications of Obama's deportation record, it's hard to excuse any reporter's decision not to do the same for his readers.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Mar 12th 2014 @ 3:28pm EDT