Rand Paul and the bogus ‘immigrant roundup’ story

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  • 09/21/2022

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said this, on the subject of comprehensive immigration reform: "I think people want a party that's a little bit less aggressive on foreign policy, still believes in a strong national defense but less aggressive.  They want - the young people want politicians who don't want them in jail for 20 years for a nonviolent drug position charge.  So, they want a little bit different phase. I think people want a little different phase on immigration frankly. They don't want somebody who wants to round people up, put them in camps, and send them back to Mexico."

It's a bit disappointing to hear Senator Paul characterize people who insist on obedience to America's immigration laws in such terms.  He's not the only one, of course.  It's become commonplace to present the immigration debate as between amnesty on the one hand, and concentration camps on the other.  Apparently there is no way for people of good will to insist on obedience to American immigration laws, which aren't really "laws" at all, at least not in the same sense as ObamaCare is - i.e. you get punished if you break them.

But Senator Paul had good reason to be disappointed himself, because the Associated Press bizarrely reversed what he said, and produced a headline screaming "Sen. Paul: Voters Want to Round Up Immigrants."  That's the exact opposite of Paul's point, as would be obvious to anyone who read the four sentences preceding the one butchered by the AP - or, indeed, anyone with a minimal working knowledge of Paul's career.  Somehow the word "don't" was dropped from the Paul statement boldfaced above, evidently due to a mistake on the part of Fox News' transcription writers, and off to Wonderland the AP went.

As chronicled by NewsBusters, the AP soon issued a comprehensive "kill order" for the story - or, as Dylan Byers of Politico cheekily put it, the "retraction of the year" - but the unedited version of the story is still all over the place.  Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters marvels that nobody at the Associated Press bothered to double-check this explosive quote - which wasn't just a misquote buried ten paragraphs into the piece, but generated the headline - and asks, "Would the AP have run this story without a crosscheck of the audio or video if Barack Obama or Joe Biden were the speaker?"

Not only would a transcript double-check have been in order, but it seems odd that whoever prepared the AP report is so unfamiliar with Rand Paul, and really the immigration debate, that he'd think Paul would casually drop an observation this in the middle of a Sunday-show chat.  Let's face it: there aren't any major Republican figures who would declare voters "want somebody who wants to round people up, put them in camps, and send them back to Mexico."  The talk is all about the "emerging consensus for comprehensive immigration reform."

Even if Rand Paul had mis-spoken and forgotten to say the word "don't" on Fox News Sunday, anyone paying attention to the discussion could see what he was driving at, and the AP did more than merely cut-and-paste an erroneous Fox News transcript into a humdrum account of Sunday morning political talk.  Here's the piece they sent out, which as NewsBusters notes, you can still read at many online locations:

A Republican senator says he sees some in his party favoring a 2016 presidential candidate with an immigration policy that would "round people up ... and send them back to Mexico."

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Sunday said he would be a presidential candidate if he thought he could win. The tea party favorite says he sees an opening for a "libertarian Republican narrative" to help the GOP win on the West Coast and New England.

Paul says people want a party that's "less aggressive on foreign policy" and drug laws. Paul says he sees voters wanting, quote, "somebody who wants to round people up, put in camps and send them back to Mexico."

A Paul spokeswoman, Moira Bagley, didn't offer further explanation.

Paul spoke on "Fox News Sunday."

The AP even implied that Paul's staff is flummoxed by the remarkable statement their boss didn't actually make.  If this was due to lazy reporting by the Associated Press, it's a truly astounding level of sloth.