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Media Suddenly Eager to Fact Check Outrageous Human Trafficking Claims Under Trump: Reason Roundup

Plus: the futility of "fetal heartbeat" bills and Under Armour going to outer space.

Ingram Publishing/NewscomIngram Publishing/Newscom "Human traffickers, the victims are women and children," said President Donald Trump as he announced the end of the partial government shutdown. "Women are tied up, they're bound, duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases they can't even breathe."

Several people pinged me last Friday when Trump launched into this crude, fabulistic, and fear-mongering tirade about sex trafficking. But it barely seemed noteworthy to me at this point. Not only has Trump made many past references to duct-taped women allegedly being trafficked across the U.S.–Mexico border, but his human trafficking hyperbole is barely distinguishable from the melodramatic "modern slavery" narratives put forth regularly by Barack Obama, Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton, and others during their tenure in power. Or the stories stories spun by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) during her time as California attorney general. And none of those stories were any less out of touch with reality.

Still, it's nice to see the Trump-era media actually looking critically at ridiculous human-trafficking claims. Yesterday, CNN—which has rarely met a fact-free sex-trafficking melodrama it wouldn't publish uncritically—ran an article titled "Experts: Trump's tape-bound women trafficking claim is misleading."

USA Today included the issue in its fact-check of "five things President Trump said while announcing the shutdown is over." The paper found "some elements of truth to the president's claim"—yes, Central American migrants seeking refuge here often face violence and sexual assault, it points out—but "no evidence exists that duct-tape bound women have been smuggled across the border in vehicles."

At Vox, Dara Lind—who points out that the gagged women thing has become "a staple of...Trump's riffs on the horrors of the US-Mexico border"—reports that a top Border Patrol official emailed agents last week seeking information to back up the president's claims:

The email, shown to Vox by a source within Border Patrol, was sent as a "request for information" by an assistant Border Patrol chief, apparently on behalf of the office of Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan (referred to internally as "C-1"). It asked agents to reply within less than two hours with "any information (in any format)" regarding claims of tape-gagged women—and even linked to the Post article "for further info." Vox's source indicated that they and others in their sector hadn't heard anything that would back up Trump's claims, but wasn't sure if agents in other sectors had provided information. However, no one from the Trump administration has come forward to offer evidence for the claim, either before or after the internal Border Patrol email was sent. (Customs and Border Protection did not respond to a request for comment.)

Seeking post-hoc justification for wild human trafficking claims is also a bad habit that predates Trump. For many years, numbers spread by Justice Department and administration officials were more or less made up out of thin air, as The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has pointed out. (See also: "The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on Drugs.")

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, we're also seeing a revival of myths about sporting events and sex trafficking. Go here to see Maggie McNeill at Reason demolishing this myth.

FREE MINDS

"Not one state has managed to put a heartbeat bill into lasting practice," writes CNN's Jessica Ravitz, considering the latest abortion-curtailing law deemed unconstitutional in court. These "heartbeat bills" seek to ban abortion starting from the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is just a few weeks into pregnancy.

An Iowa judge just struck down such a law on January 22. But they keep coming. "In the past few weeks alone, lawmakers in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Minnesota and Tennessee introduced fetal heartbeat legislation," writes Ravitz.

Steven Aden, chief legal counsel for Americans United for Life, told CNN:

With all the respect I can muster to my many friends in the heartbeat movement, no heartbeat bill anywhere has ever saved a human life because, to my knowledge, they've all been struck down by federal and state judges—and that was predictable, They are unconstitutional under current federal constitutional law. They were designed as a vehicle to challenge Roe in the Supreme Court, but they won't get to the Supreme Court unless you can convince four members of the court that a fifth member would go with them to uphold the heartbeat bill.

FREE MARKETS

Trendy athletic-wear brand preps for space. The fitness apparel company Under Armour is launching a clothing and footwear line made for intergalactic travel. Under Armour will create the line for Virgin Atlantic, reports Fast Company: "Under Armour says it will be creating a new generation of space apparel and footwear, plus an astronaut performance program, for Virgin's commercial space flight program. That includes spacesuits for passengers and pilots, as well as uniforms for Virgin's Spaceport America facility in New Mexico."

QUICK HITS

• The U.S. is looking at a $1 trillion-plus budget deficit for the second year in a row.

• Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown writes in the San Francisco Chronicle about his relationship with Kamala Harris in the 1990s. The title: "Sure, I dated Kamala Harris. So What?"

• Against smartphone panic.

• The FBI is reportedly considering Mann Act charges against R. Kelly.

• The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a new gun rights case.

• Banks are eyeing Warren's likely presidential candidacy with dread, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Banks are eyeing Warren's likely presidential candidacy with dread...

    Unlike the rest of us.

  • ||

    Hello.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a new gun rights case.

    Decision to be ignored by DC, New York and Chicago.

  • End Child Unemployment||

    Don't forget the 9th circuit!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The fitness apparel company Under Armour is launching a clothing and footwear line made for intergalactic travel.

    So it will include something to maintain skeletal muscle mass and bone density and also have a diaper?

  • BigT||

    Silly Under Armour, robots don't need clothes.

    Well, maybe sexbots.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Seems like they wouldn't either.

  • BigT||

    Needed for the strip tease foreplay. Particularly the French maid bots.

  • Fats of Fury||

    That's the RBG line.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Sure, I dated Kamala Harris. So What?"

    That memorable, huh?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    "She wasn't different than any other 'ho I banged during that time."

  • damikesc||

    ...she probably wasn't, mind you.

  • Fats of Fury||

    He dated her good and hard.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Not one state has managed to put a heartbeat bill into lasting practice...

    Like that was ever the point of crafting such legislation.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day we'll keep trying.

  • ||

    Having a heartbeat any time during pregnancy would leave out a lot of future politicians.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Ranking the Trump Economy: The president brags about U.S. prosperity. But conditions improved more under his predecessors. (Even Carter.)

    Paul Krugman said this would happen. And some of you anti-intellectual doubters refused to believe him.

    #DrumpfRecession
    #UnbanPalinsButtplug

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    So the dude who made a fortune selling insanely marked-up coffee beans with a social justice message to hipsters and smug urbanite lefty douches (like most of the Reason editors and writers) is apparently thinking of running for president as an independent. He seems concerned about our ballooning debt and the fact that the democratic party he has always supported is going too far to the left, and his core customer base is NOT happy about it to say the least!

  • Tom Bombadil||

    The left is going to tear this guy apart.

    He's about to be labeled a greedy, rich, Corporatist. Price gouger. Labor abuser. Election Spoiler, etc.

    Boycotts coming in 3,2,1.

    He'll be out of the race before he can say "Mocha Latte Soy shit brew".

  • ||

    And he's gonna realize going woke wasn't a sound move.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    It would be no problem if he was running as a D, he'd just lose and be forgotten.

    But with his wealth, and intent to run as an I, "Danger, Will Robinson".

  • BigT||

    Let's hope he Perots the prog vote.

  • SIV||

    The FBI is reportedly considering Mann Act charges against R. Kelly.

    Did we really need a sequel to the Progressive Era?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Why, coz he acted like a Mann?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    He was blinded by the light.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    It will be interesting to see if Kelly gets indicted but Bryan Singer doesn't.

  • Anomalous||

    He just needs to stay out of the public eye for awhile.

    I believe he should hide. I believe he should stay inside.

  • Nardz||

    I believe he should fly.
    Maybe he could catch the sky.
    I bet he thinks about it every night and day...
    Spread his wings and just fly away

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Women are tied up, they're bound, duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases they can't even breathe."

    The president accidentally quoting the Steele Dossier.

  • grb||

    Huh. I thought he was accidentally quoting Der Stürmer, just transposing hook-nosed Jewish villians terrorizing blonde frau maidens (cowering in fear), with the modern brown-skinned "Other" of choice. Times change, but the porn remains essentially the same. And isn't that what his target audience wants to consume?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The FBI is reportedly considering Mann Act charges against R. Kelly.

    Did you see Trapped in the Closet? Man, can he act.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Boooooooooooo

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Nope. That was solid.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...his human trafficking hyperbole is barely distinguishable from the melodramatic "modern slavery" narratives put forth regularly by Barack Obama, Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton, and others during their tenure in power.

    The more excuses the enforcement arm of their policies have to interact with the people, the better.

  • damikesc||

    I'm shocked that the media is interested in fact checking Trump in ways they were far less doing to Obama, Lynch, Clinton, etc...

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Is your whining designed to persuade others, or it is just to make you feel better?

  • damikesc||

    Sorry...who in the blue hell are you?

  • ||

    "...The paper found "some elements of truth to the president's claim"—yes, Central American migrants seeking refuge here often face violence and sexual assault, it points out—but "no evidence exists that duct-tape bound women have been smuggled across the border in vehicles."

    It was....GORILLA TAPE.

    No one uses duct-tape anymore. Sheesh.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    As an artisan I choose to use rope still. It's the details that make an artisan.

  • ||

    You tie it in with a nice decorative ribbon?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yes, and I twirl my mustache.

  • ||

    "Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), in hospice care now, deeply regretted voting for the Iraq War and has sent thousands of condolence letters to the family of soldiers who died there."

    Will Obama do the same for his drone program that killed Americans without due process?

    Hilary: The son of a...

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm curious his feelings on the Iraqis who died.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    He thinks it's hilarious.

  • ||

    Warren Hold My Beer.

    She's one scary dude.

  • ||

    "Politicians like Harris are so fake."

    Warren: Hold my beer.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Don't drink the beer, its only got 1/1024 alcohol content.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Anomalous||

    An Error Was Encountered
    The URI you submitted has disallowed characters.

  • BigT||

    de Blasio is deplatformed?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Eminem confuses fans after rapping about "sex with sheep" on new guest spot

    "I left my legacy hurt? Fuckin' absurd. Like a shepherd havin' sex with his sheep, fuck what you heard," Eminem raps on the track.

    That's a good line!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What did you mean when you rapped?

    I said nice rectum, I had a vasectomy, Hector. So you can't get pregnant if I bisexually wreck ya.…

    I pretty much just have been leaving a bread crumb trial of gayness.

    I see that now.

    You know – but you actually – Hector – Hector was a real person.

    Hector and his rectum were real.

    Hector's rectum is real. Hector's rectum is real.

  • Rockabilly||

    Anderson Cooper interviews Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru84VvNZCRc

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Hope the catering company provided enough hay and oats before the interview.

  • damikesc||

    I'm not getting the "AOC is attractive" thing. Attractive compared to what? The horse in "Mr Hands"?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    You're not attracted to a woman who goes through a pint of lipstick daily?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I've also noticed that for a young woman, her tits seem like they're attached to her lower ribcage. NTTAWWT.

  • Ray McKigney||

    Compard to Sloppy Choppers and Crazy Mazie.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Volunteers work to combat sex trafficking before Super Bowl

    As Super Bowl festivities kicked off in Atlanta Saturday, volunteers fanned out across the metro-area visiting hotels, motels, restaurants and hospitals to combat sex trafficking.

    They distributed informational packets containing fliers of missing Atlanta girls, information about human trafficking, and bags of soap at each stop.

    "We are here to save our adolescents from prostitution and we know with the Super Bowl coming, many of these children will be coming through your hotel," one volunteer told a hotel clerk.

    Life must be fun for those hotel employees.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    If it's volunteers then it doesn't bother me. Even if they're likely misinformed, it's their perogative

  • Anomalous||

    Shouldn't they be working to prevent spousal abuse during the Super Bowl?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "Bags of soap"?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Yeah, a soap bag.

  • Rich||

    They distributed informational packets containing fliers of missing Atlanta girls

    , as opposed to binders full of women.

  • BigT||

    "with the Super Bowl coming, many of these children will be coming through your hotel,"

    Phrasing!!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Illegal immigrants can and do suffer terribly at the hands of human smugglers. However, conflating the willingly smuggled victims of human smugglers with the unwillingly trafficked victims of human traffickers is probably incorrect--but that's true no matter what side you're on in the immigration debate.

    Because stories about the victims of human traffickers are often sensationalized to promote bad policy against prostitution is no reason to denigrate the suffering of illegal aliens who are victimized by the people who smuggle them. If the Stanford Prison Experiment taught us anything, it's that defenseless people are often victimized simply because they can be.

    Anyone who assumes that illegal immigrant women are well treated by the people who smuggle them because the stories of women being abused by human traffickers for purposes of prostitution are often exaggerated needs to work on their logic. Beware of Jane Fonda Syndrome. Opposing the Vietnam War is a perfectly reasonable position, but there's no need to vouch for the good treatment of American POWs who are actually being subjected to torture.

  • ||

    You said it perfectly.

  • BigT||

    Run-on sentences. Otherwise fine.

  • damikesc||

    If the Stanford Prison Experiment taught us anything, it's that defenseless people are often victimized simply because they can be.

    It turns out that the experiment was kinda bullshit. Guards explicitly coached to be "tough guards". The prisoner who had the "Break down" demanding to be let out admitted he was acting...badly. The psychologist behind it (Zimbardo) seems unable to honestly discuss the experiment at all (legally, he could have been charged with false imprisonment)

    Most psychology experiments are utter bullshit. This is one of the more egregious ones.

  • Ray McKigney||

    Half of all psychology experiments are utter BS. The problem is that we can't tell which half.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Howard Schultz 'Sold Out' Seattle

    "Even if you couldn't care less about basketball, buried in these bitter memories are crucial and legitimate questions about any Schultz foray into politics," according to Westneat. "One is: Why did he sell away our team, really? Schultz claimed later in a lawsuit that he was hoodwinked—that he genuinely thought the Oklahomans would keep the Sonics in Seattle. If that's true, the question then is: Do we really want a president who can be rolled so easily?"

    Westneat points out when the sale was finalized the Seattle Times declared, "Schultz sold out Seattle for $350 million."

    "So even newspaper columnists could plainly see what was going on!" Westneat said. "It's hardly comfort that the latte lord supposedly couldn't."

    lol

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Nothing brings out social retardation like professional sports franchises.

    1) No franchise owner should be getting these sweetheart stadium deals from the taxpayers. If it wasn't for this and revenue-sharing, half these franchises, if not more, would have gone out of business decades ago.
    2) If an owner decides he can't run the franchise anymore and finds willing buyers, he's not in a position to tell them what to do with it unless he gets it in writing.
    3) No, urban residents, these sports franchises aren't "your" teams. If you want to keep them from moving, tell the city council to buy them and make them municipally-owned properties.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    "Schultz sold out Seattle for $350 million."

    Man he must be good, the Rolling Stones only get about 10 million per sold out show.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I suppose it is good that the NYT is now sceptical of human trafficking hyperbole. It won't last because they hate the person making this particular hyperbole, not because they do not like indulging in hyperbole.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Exactly. It's more about Trump

  • Sevo||

    "Media Suddenly Eager to Fact Check Outrageous Human Trafficking Claims Under Trump..."

    The media also decided that being a lap-dog is only acceptable with a D POTUS.

  • Mickey Rat||

    If fetal heartbeat Bill's are unconstitutional due to the result oriented, extraconstitutional precedent started with Roe v Wade. Which is set in stone due to the policy preferences of the past court majorities, not constitutional soundness, which is why so many people have no respect for it.

  • $park¥ is the Worst||

    I'll tell you what, the comments on the raging feminist article say so much about so many of the commenters here.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    That we are really handsome with big fuckin' peckas?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    That we are really smart and argue good?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Who? Vek?

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    I just took a peek. Yeah, that's quite a shitshow.

  • lap83||

    The future is female and male, and they're all furious at each other on the internet

  • BigT||

    Some are abusing themselves as well.

  • Eddy||

    Those women on the videos you watch are actresses.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Not really.

  • $park¥ is the Worst||

    Yeah really.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Nope.

  • $park¥ is the Worst||

    Yep.

  • A Lady of Spam||

    Oh you men !

  • A Lady of Spam||

    $park¥, first, you're not the worst, never think that about yourself, but you really need to learn to let us ladies speak for ourselves. We don't need your huge balls to swoop in and save the day, we've got it covered, thanks

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Nah.

  • Brian||

    "Media Suddenly Eager to Fact Check Outrageous Human Trafficking Claims Under Trump"

    The facts don't matter: it's where the story is pointed that counts.

  • moneyshot||

    The U.S. is looking at a $1 trillion-plus budget deficit for the second year in a row

    But Trump sycophants promised us 3% growth and balanced budgets!

    The CBO just forecast 1.7% growth through 2022.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    forecasts don't mean shit.

  • BigT||

    Correct. Track record is good. A China deal would be great, but absent that 2% is likely.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    You just made a forecast.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Roger Stone 'weaponized information stolen by Putin to help elect Trump president', claims ex-DNC chief

    Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone 'weaponized information stolen by Russia' to get the President elected in 2016 and should be prosecuted for treason, the former head of the Democratic National Committee has claimed.

    Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused Stone of breaking the law in his alleged attempts to use the illegally obtained DNC emails in Trump's favour during the 2016 election campaign.

    I love that Roger Stone is now an evil genius.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    It sounds like she's making the case for about 20 persons from the previous administration to get tried for treason, up to and including the POTUS.

  • Brian||

    I remember when she had to resign. She's pissed.

  • DajjaI||

    a top Border Patrol official emailed agents last week seeking information to back up the president's claims

    People these days are too honest for their own good. #endofhistory

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Oh, btw, Resident Evil 2 is really good.

  • Ska||

    We knew that 20 years ago.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yes, the old one is so good too. This is a pretty solid remake though.

  • Juice||

    At Vox

    What the fuck? Honestly.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Crusty Juggler||

    • Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown writes in the San Francisco Chronicle about his relationship with Kamala Harris in the 1990s. The title: "Sure, I dated Kamala Harris. So What?"

    Please do not shame women with daddy issues - it is all some of us have.

    Thank you.

  • BigT||

    She doesn't like a little Willie?

    Dating Willie Brown shows very poor judgment. No surprise.

  • Eddy||

    You can't spell "date" without a "D."

    I mean for "Democrat," of course.

  • Eddy||

    "Steven Aden, chief legal counsel for Americans United for Life, told CNN:"

    So now we know how pro-lifers can get on CNN - talk trash about other prolifers or get accused of harassing an Indian "Vietnam veteran."

    And the author of that CNN article also wrote anti-Kavanaugh and pro-Obamacare articles.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    So now we know how pro-lifers can get on CNN

    If CNN prefers libertarians to delusional authoritarians, that doesn't sound so bad.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    So now we know how pro-lifers can get on CNN

    If CNN prefers libertarians to delusional authoritarians, that doesn't sound so bad.

  • T. Lord||

    Ridiculous. How can you ignore the evidence before your own eyes? If this *really* "never happens," then where do you think that photo came from that you ran with this very story?! Appalling lack of fact checking here.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Let's just cut the budget to $1 trillion and eliminate all taxes.

  • Robert||

    I knew Trump was libertarian. See, he's against people's being tied up & having their mouths duct-taped. I don't hear other politicians disapproving of binding & duct-taping!

  • Email Help Desk||

    The Shutdown Was a Failure on Its Own Terms, Trump was simply outplayed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    Contact us for email support services like recovery, outsourcing, help desk, hacked or blocked emails.

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