Last week, Mr. Garrison Grisedale argued that the migrant caravan is the U.S.’s most pressing foreign policy issue. I admittedly and firmly disagree with the piece. But regardless of the reader’s opinion on the migrant caravan, two quotes Mr. Grisedale used to argue that the caravan poses an extreme threat to the U.S. are presented in a misleading light.
First, the author quotes an MSNBC reporter as reportedly saying about the demographics of the caravan, “The majority are men … and have not articulated the need for asylum.” The full quote from the MSNBC TV segment reads far differently: “From what we’ve seen, the majority are actually men, and some of these men have not articulated that need for asylum. Instead, they have talked about going to the U.S. for a better life and to find work.” Though the first four words quoted in the article express the reporter’s point accurately, the omission of “and some of,” along with the rest of the statement drastically twist the reporter’s words to support Mr. Grisedale’s argument.
Secondly, Mr. Grisedale includes a quote from a member of the caravan who told Fox News, “Criminals are everywhere.” But this once again omits the remainder of the quoted individual’s statement. In the full quote from the Fox TV segment the caravan member continued to say: “There are criminals in here, I mean it is, but it is not that many. There is good people here trying to get through Mexico and then get to the U.S. but that doesn’t mean everybody is a criminal.” Does it make sense to say that criminals are everywhere in the caravan, and then state that there aren’t that many? When taken as a whole, the individual’s statement makes far more sense if interpreted as, “Criminals are everywhere in the world, so of course some caravan members are criminals. But that doesn’t mean all or even many of the members are criminals.” Of course, this puts words into the man’s mouth, and the interpretation may be incorrect. Regardless, the author’s omission of the majority of the full quote alters a slightly ambiguous statement into one that allegedly supports the article’s point of view.
The manipulation of quotes is commonplace in modern media and facilitates the dispersal of false information and dishonesty. Arguments and opinions should stand on their own for readers to judge without forced and misleading support.
Alex Taylor is a senior studying economics