Remember when the mainstream media sneered at President Trump’s claims on how people allegedly being tied up, bound, and duct-taped women at the border? These outlets included CNN and The Washington Post.

As it turns out, Trump was right. The media outlet going on the record to correct the “fact checkers” on this issue is the New York Times, the queen bee of liberal media outlets, and certainly no friend of the president’s.

First, a refresher on how this all started. Here’s how ABC News reported on the story in late January:

In his battle for a border wall, President Donald Trump has repeatedly told colorful, and at times disturbing, stories to make his case. Two in particular, involving duct tape and prayer rugs, have attracted so much attention administration officials reportedly launched an urgent effort to find evidence to support the president’s claims.

But no evidence has been found — of either migrants using prayer rugs at the border or smugglers using duct tape on women to traffic them — according to an administration official who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly.

It appears Trump’s Hollywood movie-style descriptions of human trafficking at the border, at this point, are closer to fiction than fact.

CNN’s “fact checking” attempt went like this:

The experts all cautioned that the President’s rhetoric about human trafficking could obscure the horrific reality that most trafficking victims experience. According to Lori Cohen, of Sanctuary for Families’ antitrafficking initiative, the US citizens who face trafficking include young adults emerging from the foster care system, LGBT youth who have been kicked out of their homes and adults involved in prostitution.

“I don’t know where the President’s information is coming from,” Cohen said. “I don’t believe it’s coming from law enforcement. It’s certainly not coming from victims, and it’s not coming from the dozens of service providers who I’ve spoken with across the country. None of us have seen anything that looks like what the President has described.”

Instead of relying on one anonymous administration official as ABC did, the Washington Post interviewed other experts, who also found Trump’s claims lacking:

Yet human-trafficking experts and advocates for immigrant women have said they are perplexed by this increasingly repeated story in Trump’s repertoire — and are at a loss for where he got his information. It was not from them, they say; in fact, they have no idea what he is talking about.

In interviews with The Washington Post this week, nine aid workers and academics who have worked on the border or have knowledge of trafficking there said the president’s tape anecdote did not mirror what they have seen or heard. A separate story reported in the Toronto Star cited several additional experts who said Trump’s lurid narrative — migrant women bound, gagged and driven across the border — does not align with their known reality.

“I have no idea the roots of it,” said Edna Yang, assistant executive director of American Gateways, a Texas-based immigration legal services and advocacy nonprofit. “I haven’t seen a case like that.”

The paper even included a detailed timeline of each time Trump made the claim during the month of January. While they didn’t accuse the president of lying (they left open the possibility there might be some merit to the claims), they made sure to include past assessments of Trump’s prior statements:

Since Trump took office two years ago, he has made more than 7,645 false or misleading claims, according to The Post’s Fact Checker database, more than 1,000 of which were about immigration.

The insinuation was clear: Trump’s probably lying about this one, too.

The only problem is, their fact checking on this issue was way off.

A story published late last week by the New York Times confirmed Trump’s assertions about women being tied up and duct-taped at the border:

But there is some truth to the president’s descriptions of the threat of sexual assault and of women who have been duct-taped and bound.

Undocumented women have been duct-taped and tied up before, during and after their migration to the United States, The Times discovered while reporting this story. Maybe not frequently, but it has happened.

The story they referenced detailed the horrific experiences of several women who became victims of human traffickers while attempting to cross the border:

The stories are many, and yet all too similar. Undocumented women making their way into American border towns have been beaten for disobeying smugglers, impregnated by strangers, coerced into prostitution, shackled to beds and trees and — in at least a handful of cases — bound with duct tape, rope or handcuffs.

The New York Times found dozens of documented cases through interviews with law enforcement officials, prosecutors, federal judges and immigrant advocates around the country, and a review of police reports and court records in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The review showed more than 100 documented reports of sexual assault of undocumented women along the border in the past two decades, a number that most likely only skims the surface, law enforcement officials and advocates say.

In light of this new information, Fox News’s Brian Flood reported that the Washington Post “did not answer directly when asked if a correction or editor’s note would be added to its piece.”

As of this writing, they haven’t.

The media frenzy surrounding Trump’s claim was odd in the first place. The horrors women have faced trying to cross the border have been well-documented for years: abuse, violence, sexual assaults, gang rapes. It is common knowledge these things happen to women. The duct-tape claim was one that, in the overall scheme of things, was not even the worst of the story of what women have experienced at the border.

And yet the mainstream media honed in on this singular claim like a dog on a bone.

Why?

Because stories about women being abused at the border, or once they cross it, give people uncomfortable visuals that play into Trump’s favor when it comes to how his tough approach to addressing illegal immigration and crime at the border is viewed. And if the media can chip away at just the tiniest of details from his stories, they can create doubt in the minds of the American people on other things he says about this issue, too.

This is yet another instance where the mainstream media got it wrong. The fact that another one of their own corrected the record later has to be especially galling for an arrogant national press corps that views their journalistic and investigative creds as unassailable.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 
 
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