By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Some on the left are so determined to advance the Obama administration narrative on the immigration crisis that they are prepared to completely distort the reality of the situation. On the July 10th edition of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, former Obama administration “Car Czar” and “Morning Joe Economic Analyst” Steve Rattner was making the case for why America should be more open to the “refugees” leaving Central America to come to the U.S.
Joe Scarborough asked Rattner “What is going on [there] that’s driving this? [starting at 4:00]
Rattner replied that the statistics on the murder rate are quite remarkable. Honduras has gone from approximately 3,000 murders per 100,000 people, per year, going back to 2000, to about 7,000 in 2012. They put a chart up on the screen that was titled, “Violence is the Primary Driver.” Rattner said, “Let me put this in perspective for you.” He said that in Honduras, you had a one in 14 chance of being murdered during a single calendar year, and said that by comparison, in New York City your chances were one in 25,000. The chart showed that there were 7,172 murders per every 100,000 people there in 2012. With a population of about 8.5 million, that would mean that there were more than 600,000 murders there that year.
My radar immediately went on full tilt. Scarborough said, “That’s remarkable,” and Rattner reiterated his point—that it is a refugee crisis.
The source cited on the chart was UNDOC. I went on the site, and this is the chart I found:
It shows that in fact the number in 2010 was 82 murders per 100,000, or, approximately 7,000. And that is the mistake. The 7,172 figure on Rattner’s chart was actually the total number of murders in Honduras in 2012, not the murder rate per 100,000—which was 90—as reflected in this chart from the same website.
Somehow Rattner discovered the error, and tweeted out a mea culpa:
Rattner says, “Basic point remains.” However, it does no such thing. His actual basic point was that the reason the number of children coming into the U.S. was increasing so dramatically was that the murder rate was increasing dramatically. There was no increase in the number of kids fleeing the country for most of the years that the murder rate was climbing. The dramatic increase occurred after President Obama instituted DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in 2012. It was a memorandum written by the Obama administration suggesting greater prosecutorial discretion in deporting young people who had come into this country illegally, and granting those eligible a two-year reprieve on being deported. Obama did this after failure to get his so-called “Dream Act” through Congress, which would have granted residency to young adult illegal aliens who had attended college or been in the military. But it’s real world effect was to post a welcome sign to people in Central America, saying, in effect, if you can get here, now is the time, and we won’t be deporting you.
So the dishonesty by Rattner, and others making the same argument, is in attempting to tie the surge of illegal aliens crossing the border to increased violence, especially murder, in their home countries, when in fact it was the welcome sign put up by the Obama administration.
Rattner’s tweet to his 14,000 followers, was seen by far fewer than the number who saw it presented on MSNBC. Well, maybe not far fewer.
The inaccuracy of Rattner’s graph and commentary was so egregious that MSNBC, or Morning Joe himself, should issue a retraction and apology, as some of Rattner’s twitter followers demanded. It wasn’t just the sloppy research that was wrong, but once Rattner realized the embarrassing mistake he made on national TV, he acted like that didn’t change the validity of his point.
I addressed some of these issues that same day as a guest on “Cavuto” on the Fox Business Network, which you can see here: