Fact Checking President Trump’s Address to the Nation

A reflection on Trump's January 8th address to the nation, as supported by the New York Times

The U.S. government shutdown pushes on to its 28th day

The U.S. government shutdown pushes on to its 28th day

Grace Walker, Staff Writer

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As we are now in the 28th day of the partial government shutdown, we reflect on President Donald Trump’s address to the nation supporting the reasoning behind such a sweeping shut down. In his January 8th address from the oval office, the shutdown was entering its 18th day.  Since then speech, professionals, experts, and fact checkers alike have been working around the clock to analyze the president’s address. A speech of this magnitude always tends to be a magnet for fact checkers. The most influential quotes from his speech were highlighted and fact-checked in an article by the New York Times less than 24 hours after the speech was televised. Below are some highlights from that article:

Trump was quoted as saying:

“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.” This quote was deemed false by Linda Qiu. Democrats have offered up to $1.3 billion dollars in border security funding for measures such as enhanced surveillance and fortified fencing. The one aspect of border control they do not support is Mr. Trump’s idea for the wall on the border of the US and Mexico.

“Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with other Democrats.” After being fact-checked by Linda Qiu, she found that this quote needs context. In 2007, Chuck Schumer voted for a law that authorized 700 miles of fencing on the border. However, this is far different from the industrial, costly wall Mr. Trump has proposed.

“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.” As determined by New York Times journalist, Alan Rappeport this quote is also in need of context. While some argue that immigrants are driving down the number of available jobs and spiking the unemployment rate, statistics are showing that the majority of immigrants who enter the country illegally take the jobs Americans do not want.

“The wall will also be paid for, indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” Alan Rappeport found this quote to be 100% false. The North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has not passed through Congress yet. Any benefits that come to the American economy from the Agreement will come in the form of lower tariffs for American companies and higher wages for American workers. This is far different from Mr. Trump’s promise that Mexico will pay for the wall. Furthermore, in 2017, Mexico’s former president Enrique Peña Nieto claimed the Mexican government had no intention of paying for the proposed wall.

“The border wall would very quickly pay for itself.” Rappeport found that this statement had false elements to it and needed to be put into context due to its confusing nature. Trump claimed that the annual cost of illegal drugs in the US is $500 billion dollars. However, a report from the surgeon general contradicts this statement, with the annual illegal drug costs coming in under $200 billion. Stopping the flow of drugs across the border will not stop the flow of drugs into the US and Americans are unclear on how reducing the cost of drug addiction would finance the wall.

After the speech was concluded, the Democrats were given a chance to respond to President Trump. Quotes from these segments of the broadcast were also fact checked. Below are some highlights from the New York Times: 

Senator Chuck Schumer was quoted as saying, “No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage.” After more consideration from Alan Rappeport, this quote, like many delivered by Trump, was in need of a little context. An estimated 800,000 workers are living without pay since the government shut down for nearly a month. While millions of Americans themselves are not physically harmed by the shutdown, there is a multiplier affect from family members’ jobs and payment being halted. This decrease in payment also spills into the broader economy, harms business owners and their customers, as well as the travel and tourism companies.

While it is unclear how long the government will remain shut down, one thought rings true: in every speech that is given on the political stage, they are bound to be inherently riddled with fallacy. With every speech that is delivered, there is an eager fact checker waiting in the wings.  

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