Sigh: PolitiFact Rules Sean Hannity Is 'Basically Correct,' Yet 'HALF TRUE'

Our News Analysis Division has given this fact checker a rating of:
Deeply Distorted Deeply Distorted

The "Truth-o-Meter" at PolitiFact (and their subset PunditFact) is very strange machine. On January 11, PunditFact ruled it "HALF TRUE" when Sean Hannity proclaimed on his show on January 10 that "17,000 individuals with criminal records were apprehended trying to cross the border" in 2018. They also admitted this "emotional rebuttal" of the media was "basically correct." 


SEAN HANNITY: Keep in mind, every seven days, 300 Americans are dying. Seventeen thousand individuals with criminal records were apprehended trying to cross the border. Sixty thousand inadmissible or illegal immigrants are turned away from our borders every single month. And over the last 30 days, 20,000 children, they were smuggled or trafficked right here into the United States.

Hannity repeated that number on his show on January 17. PolitiFact's John Kruzel broke out the "needs context" stick to whack Hannity as somehow dishonest: 

The figure Hannity cited is basically correct. But it’s important to place his claim in a broader context, which is that many of these people had criminal records for previous attempts to enter the United States illegally, or other nonviolent crimes. And, a majority of these people were trying to cross at legal points of entry, so Trump’s wall wouldn’t have made a difference.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows that 17,000 people with criminal records were stopped last year.That’s out of a total of more than 566,000 people apprehended between ports of entries, stopped from coming in at ports of entries and other enforcement actions, or 3 percent.

Liberals like PolitiFact are trying to isolate violent crime, so they can tell the public "you don't have to fear them, their crimes -- especially their immigrating illegally -- are nonviolent." But that's not a factual debate at all. It's a suspicion that conservatives interpret facts based on fear (and maybe some racism). 

Kruzel fact-splained it this way: "Hannity often uses his platform to bring attention to cases where illegal immigrants committed crimes against Americans. So his viewers might assume that violent criminals sneaking across the border make up a large share of illegal immigrants."

"His viewers might assume" is their "fact" measuring meter? Their idea of meaningful "context"? 

Kruzel's "fact check" -- or liberal contextualizing -- concluded: 

Broadly speaking, Hannity’s statistic includes people with criminal records stopped trying to come into the United States. But it’s important to note that non-U.S. persons with violent criminal records make up a small share of this population, and many of those people were attempting to enter the country through legal points of entry. They were not trying to sneak across the border.

We rate this Half True.

We have rated this "fact-check" by PolitiFact as Deeply Distorted. For similar analyses, please visit our Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers page. 

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