What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 29, 2013

Refuting Spakovsky Who's "Refuting" Mediamatters

This'll be kinda circular so bear with me for a while.

In today's Tribune-Review my good friends on the [board who decides these things] decided to give Hans A. Von Spakovsky some space in (as the headline puts it):

Refuting (not rebutting) Media Matters

But with the usual misplacement of some very pertinent information (a practice so prevalent on the Trib editorial page), he does neither.

Hans begins:
Media Matters, the self-styled “media watchdog” of the left, has accused the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review of using “deceptive numbers” to “attack” immigration reform. But the Trib is exactly right when it says that the Obama administration is not committed to border enforcement and cannot be trusted to implement a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

The criticisms voiced by Media Matters are way off base — particularly their claims about so-called “secret numbers” from The Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Of course he leaves out how much money the owner of the paper's given to those two fine organizations. Here, let me help you with that:
  •  The Center for Immigration Studies has recieved a total of $11,476,000 in foundation money over the years with 17% of it ($1,947,5000) coming from two foundations (Sarah Scaife and Carthage) controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.  Indeed in the first decade of records found at the bridge project (1991,2001), Scaife's foundations gave about 66% of the total foundational support.  I think that's called "seed money" but I could be wrong.
  • We all know about how much Scaife's sent to the Heritage Foundation.  A this point, Heritage has received $109,986,558 in foundation money with about 25% ($27,944,000) coming from three Scaife foundations (Allegheny, Carthage and Sarah Scaife).  In the first decade of Heritage numbers found at the Bridge Project (1985-1995), Scaife's foundations gave almost exactly half of the foundation money given to Heritage ($12,439,000 out of $25,138,677).  Again, seed money.
But that's old stuff.  While its omission invalidates anything that follows, still let's move on.  This is how the Media Matters posting Von Spakovsky found so offensive begins:
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review cited deceptive statistics from the Heritage Foundation to attack the immigration reform effort, falsely claiming that the Obama administration is not enforcing current laws and arguing that it would continue this practice under a comprehensive immigration reform law.

A December 15 editorial by the Tribune-Review cited a post by the Heritage Foundation to claim that "the deportation of illegal aliens, in fact, has sunk to its lowest level in 40 years" and that the Department of Homeland Security has accepted 81 percent of 580,000 applicants for provisional legal status under a program called the Deferred Act of Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Tribune-Review argued that these numbers show that the Obama administration is not committed to border enforcement and therefore should not be trusted to roll out a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

But the Tribune-Review's analysis should be taken with a grain of salt since its Heritage Foundation numbers come from "secret numbers" obtained by the anti-immigrant nativist Center for Immigration Studies, which is known for fabricating information and pushing misleading studies.
Let's start with that "secret numbers" link since Von Spakovsky mentions it specifically.  It leads to this paragraph in this piece at the Washington Times:
Authorities deported fewer illegal immigrants in fiscal 2013 than at any time since President Obama took office, according to secret numbers obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies that suggest Mr. Obama’s nondeportation policies have hindered removals.

Just 364,700 illegal immigrants were removed in fiscal 2013, according to internal numbers from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement that CIS released Wednesday — down 11 percent from the nearly 410,000 who were deported in 2012.
And here's that report from CIS - and I'll ask, where do you think the Washington Times came up with the phrase "secret numbers"?  Here:
The report also presents previously unpublished statistics disclosing the startlingly large number of cases on ICE’s post-final-order docket of aliens who have been ordered removed, but who remain living here in defiance of immigration enforcement.
Now let's go back to how Hans pumped up the charge against Media Matters:
...particularly their claims about so-called “secret numbers” from The Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)
He wants you to think that the charge of "secret numbers" came from Media Matters when it was actually from the Washington Times piece dutifully describing the very CIS "research" he's trying to defend.

Didn't he think someone would check?

Then there's Von Spakovsky's next charge:
Media Matters accused CIS of “fabricating information.”
But then he rebuts the charge by citing the very same Washington Times piece we've just been talking about.  The point being, he had to know about how they were the exact source of the "secret numbers" phrase and yet still decided not to tell you.

But let's look back at that "fabricating information" charge.  When and how did Media Matters say it?  What context?  It's in a sentence discrediting CIS in general - it's not about the specific charge Von Spakovsky attempts to rebut with the Washington Times piece.  The link at Media Matters leads to this PDF from the Center for New Community where we can read this description of CIS from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
CIS often manipulates data, relying on shaky statistics or faulty logic to come to the preordained conclusion that immigration is bad for this country.
That sentence is from this page at SPLC.  Here's an example of why the SPLC thinks CIS "fabricates information":
"Hello, I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name: Inside the Green Card Marriage Phenomenon" (November 2008). This report alleges widespread fraud among marriages between American citizens and foreigners, but then goes on to admit that "there is no way of knowing" just how prevalent marriage fraud is because there is no systematic data. CIS even concedes that most marriages "between Americans and foreign nationals are legitimate." Then, based on this non-data, CIS gets to what seems to be the real point of its study — "if small-time con artists and Third-World gold-diggers can obtain green cards with so little resistance, then surely terrorists can." Fraudulent marriage applications, CIS concludes, are "prevalent among international terrorists, including members of Al-Qaeda. [Bolding in original.]
So much unmentioned by Von Spakovsky...kinda makes you wonder who's fabricating what information for which purpose.

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