Journalists Are Like a Box of Chocolates

By Dan Cadman, January 31, 2017

One of the great observations uttered by Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name is that "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

In my years of dealing with the media, I've come to realize that journalists are like life and that box of chocolates: you just don't know what you'll get. Some are hardworking, some are lazy; some go out of their way to try to be balanced, others skew whatever you say; some are open-minded, and others are hostile before you've ever even opened your mouth.

Here is a verbatim email exchange from the last couple of days. The name of the journalist has been redacted for (undeserved) reasons of privacy.

From: XXX
Date: Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 12:25 PM
Subject: Trump immigration fact-check
To: Steven Camarota, [Director of Research at CIS]

Hi Steven, XXX here with [news station] in Sacramento.

I am doing a fact-check piece on Trump's administration saying his immigration executive order is similar to Barack Obama's immigration policies, citing the Iraq visas in 2011 and having previously identified the seven countries.

Are they right here?

XXX

Digital Journalist

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From: Dan Cadman
Date: Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 2:44 PM
Subject: Trump immigration fact-check
To: XXX

Hi, Mr. XXX--

Steve Camarota has forwarded your inquiry to me for consideration and response.

I would say that the Trump White House is not far off at all in comparing the most recent Exec. Order involving a 90-day time out with that of the Obama Administration's actions toward issuance of Iraqi visas in 2011. (See, for instance, the following link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/world/middleeast/13baghdad.html.)

As to the other countries, or rather I should say the collective of all seven countries enumerated in the E.O.: I don't have the relevant list in front of me, but I am almost 100% certain that these self-same countries (plus several more) were identified as a part of the NSEERS (National Security Entry Exit Registration System, which was begun in the Bush Administration in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, and continued in force through at least a part of the Obama Administration, until it was discontinued in 2011. (See this link: https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-removes-designated-countries-nseers-registration....)

Kind regards,
Dan Cadman
Research Fellow

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From: XXX
Date: Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 2:44 PM
Subject: Trump immigration fact-check
To: Dan Cadman, Steven Camarota

Thanks Dan, but delaying visa's is different from an outright ban, as Obama's foreign policy advisor, Ben Rhodes, notes in a series of tweets today.

And as far as the seven countries in Obama's 2015 law, there are plenty of exceptions and not a ban

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From: Dan Cadman
Date: Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 2:44 PM
Subject: Trump immigration fact-check
To: XXX

You're citing Ben Rhodes who is famous for his media "echo chamber" remarks?

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[RADIO SILENCE]

For readers who don't know or may have forgotten, Rhodes was a National Security Council official with the Obama White House who bragged in an interview about how easy he and others had found it to manipulate the media like "an echo chamber" in order to achieve the dubious and lop-sided Iran nuclear deal; a deal that the Iranians have continually broken.

Since this is my blog, I get to have the last word, at least on this site:

Dear "Fact Checker"

  1. If you already knew what you were going to say, why bother to ask us?

  2. In your last email, you refer to "Obama's 2015 law". You should at least be aware of the rudimentary fact that a presidential directive, such as that you are referring to, is not a "law" no matter what the Obama administration may have wished you to believe. This would seem to me to be a singularly important distinction for a "fact checker" to understand.

  3. "Delaying" visas is exactly like a suspension — note the word "suspension" here, not "permanent termination" — of visas that is described in President Trump's executive order. I acknowledge that his order provides for the possibility that certain suspensions might become permanent if the country in question declines to aid the United States in obtaining the information necessary to make informed judgments about the granting of visas or benefits to its citizens, but that has not happened at this juncture.

  4. As to "exceptions", here is an excerpt from President Trump's order: "[T]he Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked." That sure looks like the authority to issue exceptions to me.

  5. Going back to this executive order you purport to have been fact checking: did you even bother to read it?