Tuesday the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage vertical published an analysis of what is happening on the border with this provocative headline:
As I pointed out yesterday, that piece was very misleading in its approach. Today the authors have revised their story and it now has a new, softer headline:
So in 48 hours we’ve gone from “There’s no migrant ‘surge’…” to “The migrant ‘surge'” was predictable. That’s a big change. I realize that authors often don’t write their own headlines but in this case the headline reflected a claim in the story itself. In the original version there was a paragraph saying there was no migrant “surge or crisis.”
Here’s how that same paragraph looks now:
But the biggest change is something that was entirely missing from the original draft. As I noted yesterday, there were two significant problems with the original story. The first was that it assumed just because something is seasonal it can’t be a crisis. Of course that’s nonsense. Hurricanes are seasonal but some of them still create a crisis. Similarly, we get a surge of migrants to the border every spring but in some years (2014, 2019 and this year) that creates what everyone acknowledges is a crisis because the border patrol can’t quite keep up with the influx.
Second, the original piece was misleading because it focused solely on the total number of migrants arriving at the border. But if you’ve paid any attention to this at all, you know that’s not the crisis everyone is talking about. The crisis is about child migrants who are overwhelming detention facilities in record numbers. The original Monkey Cage analysis simply changed the subject to claim that the total number of migrants including minors wasn’t that different from previous years and therefore they didn’t see a crisis.
The revised story has added a completely new section which admits, well yeah, there appears to be a crisis brewing if you look specifically at child migrants. Again, this is exactly the thing that everyone has been calling a crisis for the past month. How did they miss it?! Here’s the new admission [emphasis added]:
What about unaccompanied minors?
What is more unusual at this moment is the increase in border crossings by unaccompanied minors, which appears to be more than just a seasonal pattern. This poses a more distinctive challenge for the Biden administration, although it is also possible that there will be a similar drop in crossings by minors during the summer months.
Seriously, this was immediately obvious to anyone who has been reading…The Washington Post. That newly added link above goes to a story the Post published Monday which estimated there could be more than 17,000 minors apprehended at the border this month. The post included a chart showing what a big spike that would be historically.
That was published the day before the Monkey Cage analysis. Again, how did they miss it? I’m guessing it was the author of that Post report that finally got their attention:
This analysis is based on last month's data. It's March 24.https://t.co/GYHtnviuyN
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) March 24, 2021
He made the point again this morning:
Pundits and chart-makers are using CBP data from Feb to insist nothing unusual is happening at the border.
Beat reporters are getting data about what's happening in March, as the govt mobilizes FEMA, opens 7 emergency shelters and says it'll be a 20-year high.
That's the gap. pic.twitter.com/g9gKblR23p
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) March 25, 2021
So while I don’t have inside information on what happened behind the scenes, it appears the Post’s actual immigration reporter called out the garbage analysis at the Monkey Cage and someone forced them to correct it. I guess that’s better than not correcting but someone needs to tell Jen Rubin to climb down from this tree. Here she is today castigating Yamiche Alcindor based on the Monkey Cage story (which she apparently hasn’t noticed has been updated).
Please see the Washington Post's report of data. Statistically the assumption much of the press has made is false. There is no uptick. This is seasonal. Could there be individuals ? I guess . But review of the FACTS shows otherwise, https://t.co/f5u7XAUhyh
— Jennifer 'pro-voting' Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) March 25, 2021
Finally, it’s still possible that the Monkey Cage is going to be wrong about the big picture as well, i.e. the number of migrants in general. Time will tell.
Border Patrol chief in Del Rio sector https://t.co/vbJ14tZh5m
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) March 25, 2021