WaPo: Four Pinocchios for Obama on Bush 41 amnesty claim; Update: Three

posted at 9:21 pm on November 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Actually, Glenn Kessler gives Peak Pinocchio to both Barack Obama and his press secretary Josh Earnest for disseminating a dishonest argument intended to bolster the notion that Obama’s predecessors used executive power for amnesty. The argument actually began on Wednesday afternoon as Earnest laid out the structure of the defense:

Q What executive actions that were taken in the past regarding immigration would involve millions of people like this upcoming one?

MR. EARNEST: There are a couple of them. President George H.W. Bush — I believe this was -— I think this would have been– I’m not sure what year this was, but I can look this up for you — he expanded the family fairness program to cover more than 1.5 million unauthorized spouses and children. This represented about 40 percent of the undocumented population at the time.

On Sunday, Obama himself made the same argument on ABC’s This Week:

“If you look, every president – Democrat and Republican – over decades has done the same thing as I mentioned in my remarks,” he added. “George H. W. Bush, about 40 percent of the undocumented persons at the time were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.”

Everyone remembers the massive amnesty program that Bush 41 authored without Congressional authorization, right? Right? It was in all the papers — well, at least a few. The New York Times ran several stories about an action Bush 41 did take in 1990 to administer the 1986 immigration-reform bill pushed by Democrats and signed by Ronald Reagan. Glenn Kessler traces the trajectory of the Paper of Record’s speculation on how many people might be impacted by Bush’s intervention, and how it grew from 100,000 to 1.5 million on no evidence at all. The Washington Post reported the 100K figure at the time, but it got multiplied by 15 through sheer speculation:

However, the Philadelphia Inquirer said the number was possibly higher: “McNary and his top aides at the Immigration and Naturalization Service said they could not predict how many dependents would come forward, although they did not dispute estimates from immigrants’ advocacy groups of 500,000 or more. ‘There’s no way to count them. It may run to a million,’ said INS spokesman Duke Austin.”

That’s certainly not billed as a precise estimate. But big round numbers are often catnip for journalists.

That 1 million figure soon turned up in a Los Angeles Times article on Feb. 15: “Although there are no firm figures, the immigration service estimates as many as 1 million aliens could be affected by the new policy.”

On March 5, the Times ran another article on the policy shift that included this sentence: “The Federal Immigration Commissioner, Gene McNary, said recently that as many as 1.5 million illegal aliens could be affected by the new policy, called ‘family fairness,’ and intended to allow close family members of legalized immigrants to remain in the country under certain conditions.”

This is the report that the White House apparently seized like Rose grabbing a door off the Titanic, but it doesn’t support their argument at all. That’s because the actual number of applicants under Bush’s action came to just under 47,000. That’s 1/30th of the claim made by Earnest and Obama. Within a month, Kessler notes, Congress passed an amended version of the immigration law, which Bush signed, which gave an even wider window for family members to apply for deportation protection. The total number of those who applied under the new law, over a four-year period, was about 200,000 — less than 1/7th of the numbers Earnest and Obama claimed, and only about 6% of the overall illegal immigrant population at the time.

None of this was a secret, and certainly shouldn’t have been to the White House, which has access to all of this data. Apparently, all they know how to do is troll Google for any supporting argument they can find. Kessler concludes much the same thing:

To recap, the White House seized on an apparently inaccurate news report, which cited an estimate much higher than any other news organization. Meanwhile, officials ignored other contemporaneous reporting using much lower figures — as well as the actual outcome of the policy. That’s worthy of Four Pinocchios.

It’s also worthy of a large helping of scorn. Either this White House is too incompetent to do proper research, or it’s deliberately obfuscating the facts in order to demagogue on its actions, and exploiting George H. W. Bush to do it. Given the recent revelations about their key adviser Jonathan Gruber’s attitudes about honesty, transparency, and respect for the American voter, I know which way I’m leaning on that question.

Update: After I wrote this post but before it published, Kessler updated his post and reduced the Pinocchios to three.

One note: We like to have a steady publication of posts here, so other than breaking news we try to put a fixed amount of time between posts. Sometimes the news cycle forces us to reorder the posts during the day, so there can be quite a bit of time between writing and posting. Usually it’s not this much time, but …. it’s been a busy day, too.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

You can shorten that now to a new unit of measurement: One Gruber

ShainS on November 24, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Earnest = Gruber

Pelosi Schmelosi on November 24, 2014 at 9:27 PM

How ’bout 44 Pinocchios for his Administration

Privatize It on November 24, 2014 at 9:28 PM

I am pretty sure Kessler changed his rating to three pinokes. It was 4 earlier, but they made an update and downgraded it to 3.

Warner Todd Huston on November 24, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Obama seriously looks deranged in that photo. His eyes, his facial expressions, his mannerisms, etc., just his overall body language resembles that of a lying, psychotic madman.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 9:32 PM

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH..!!!!!

Pelosi Schmelosi on November 24, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Nice piece, Ed. I read part of it earlier via Guy Benson’s piece over at Townhall. As usual, liars lie, and even with Grubergate out there, the media will still play the role of loyal presstitute.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 9:35 PM

So we have learned something about the gap between when articles are written and published today.

Its 3 Pinnochios now

Still love you Ed.

ChrisL on November 24, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Isn’t strange that a major new outlet uses “Pinnocchios” to render judgement on the POTUS’s lies…?

d1carter on November 24, 2014 at 9:38 PM

deliberately obfuscating

call it by what it is; no more passes

J.B. Say on November 24, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Does anyone in this White House, care about the truth? Does anyone in this White House feel that telling the truth is important? I can’t believe how willing they are to lie about really important things. Health care, gutting the constitution, talking to grieving parents about their dead after Benghazi. There are more and they were important, yet the first inclination of this President and this White House is to lie. If we had a free press in this country this would not only be important, but they would be holding this President accountable.

This President should be held accountable for his lies, not on some fact check page, but on the Front page. There should be reporters asking why he lied about this, he didn’t dissemble, mis-report, or anything along those lines, he lied

bflat879 on November 24, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Washington Compost must have received a call from the White House, hence the one fewer Pinocchio.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Either this White House is too incompetent … , or it’s deliberately obfuscating the facts in order to demagogue on its actions…

Wash, rinse, repeat.

MT on November 24, 2014 at 9:46 PM

How many “Pinnocchios” for an outright lie? Four, I guess.

Or is Dear Leader really that simpleminded, stupid and ignorant?

Maybe. But no doubt he thinks the American electorate is simpleminded, stupid and ignorant enough to buy his BS. He has hard evidence this is true. They elected him. And then re-elected him. What better evidence could he have? Gruber has his evidence, too.

Problem with this evidence is you can’t let the simpleminded, stupid, and ignorant you are trying to manipulate and con know you think they are stupid and ignorant. When you do the evidence reaches its expiration date.

Any two bit con man will tell you that you want to tell your marks how smart you think they are.

farsighted on November 24, 2014 at 9:49 PM

Washington Post, racist teabaggers.

Ward Cleaver on November 24, 2014 at 9:50 PM

press secretary Josh Earnest

…I didn’t think anyone could be a more irritating press secretary than Carney the Clown……………..I was wrong!

JugEarsButtHurt on November 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Even more important than the lie about the number of people affected by GHWB’s actions is the fact that he wasn’t acting on his own, without congressional approval. Rather, his actions were authorized by IRCA.

Syzygy on November 24, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Obama seriously looks deranged in that photo. His eyes, his facial expressions, his mannerisms, etc., just his overall body language resembles that of a lying, psychotic madman.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 9:32 PM

I see what you mean but to me he looks like a deer in the headlights. As in, “why, what do you *mean* you’re asking me something other than ‘why are you so awesome’?”

inviolet on November 24, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Also, learned a little something about how many people actually read the article they are commenting on…

ChrisL on November 24, 2014 at 9:58 PM

I see what you mean but to me he looks like a deer in the headlights. As in, “why, what do you *mean* you’re asking me something other than ‘why are you so awesome’?”

inviolet on November 24, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Nobody would be stupid enough to not have expected such a question — even if it is the State-Controlled Media we’re talking about. Obama probably knew that kind of question was coming, which is exactly why he looked like a psychotic madman to me — he knew he was pulling lies out of his azz (executive amnesty is okay, but executive orders on taxes aren’t because… uh… uh… uh…). His body language seemed to reflect that.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 10:08 PM

I checked the link and Kessler must have changed it to only three Pinocchios now.

ojfltx on November 24, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Yep I hear you.

What I hate even worse though is when he’s lying through his teeth with that calm smug little smirk lecturing me on how I’m a racist or whatever’s coming out of that liar’s mouth. I used to think people were silly when they said they “couldn’t stand to listen” to someone speak and now I know what they’re talking about. The perfect specimen of incompetence meets arrogance.

inviolet on November 24, 2014 at 10:13 PM

What I hate even worse though is when he’s lying through his teeth with that calm smug little smirk lecturing me on how I’m a racist or whatever’s coming out of that liar’s mouth. I used to think people were silly when they said they “couldn’t stand to listen” to someone speak and now I know what they’re talking about. The perfect specimen of incompetence meets arrogance.

inviolet on November 24, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Yep. In full agreement with you, and I used to feel the same way as you did. :)

The man lives and breathes straw men, no one in the media ever dares to call him out on it, he surrounds himself with Yes Men and fawning acolytes, and he generally shrouds himself in a giant leftist bubble/echo chamber. The guy is infuriating, no doubts.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 10:17 PM

Obama seriously looks deranged in that photo. His eyes, his facial expressions, his mannerisms, etc., just his overall body language resembles that of a lying, psychotic madman.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 9:32 PM

In other words, normal, for him.

IrishEyes on November 24, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Either this White House is too incompetent to do proper research, or it’s deliberately obfuscating the facts in order to demagogue on its actions, and exploiting George H. W. Bush to do it.

I’ll take “Hell, YES!” for 1000, Alex.

Just get rid of the “or”.

dissent555 on November 25, 2014 at 12:54 AM

Regardless of the number, Bush 41’s actions were based on an existing law that Congress passed. Obama is making this up out of whole cloth.

Occams Stubble on November 25, 2014 at 6:34 AM

Obama seriously looks deranged in that photo. His eyes, his facial expressions, his mannerisms, etc., just his overall body language resembles that of a lying, psychotic madman.

Aizen on November 24, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Doesn’t he, though? He looks like your typical Obamaphone recipient when told his EBT card’s been rejected for lack of funds.

KGB on November 25, 2014 at 7:38 AM

Obama is a perpetual liar

HAGGS99 on November 25, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Obama and his minions will say ANYTHING as will the MSM to defend this anti-Anglo Marxian fascist.

Scumbags all!

Mike from NC on November 25, 2014 at 11:03 AM