Media outlets attribute Obama-era child-detention stats to Trump, issue retractions

Several media organizations were forced to make retractions Tuesday after falsely attributing a staggering Obama-era migrant child-detention statistic to President Trump.

On Monday, Manfred Nowak, an expert from the U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, claimed that 100,000 migrant children were detained by the Trump administration and indicated that it was the "world's highest rate" of detained children. The following day, however, he acknowledged that the cited number actually was from 2015 -- under President Obama.

A separate report last week from The Associated Press and the PBS series "Frontline" found 69,550 migrant children have been held in U.S. government custody in the last year.

Nowak's admission prompted several media outlets to withdraw their previously reported stories.

"A Nov. 18 story headlined 'U.S. has world’s highest rate of children in detention -U.N. study' is withdrawn. The United Nations issued a statement on Nov. 19 saying the number was not current but was for the year 2015. No replacement story will be issued," Reuters stated.

National Public Radio wrote, "We have temporarily withdrawn this story because the study's author has acknowledged a significant error in the data. We will post a revised article with more complete information as soon as possible."

Agence France-Presse (AFP), which has over 1.7 million Twitter followers, issued its own correction.

The Associated Press offered a more detailed explanation. "The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about a claim about the number of children being held in migration-related detention in the United States. The story quoted an independent expert working with the U.N. human rights office saying that over 100,000 children are currently being held. But that figure refers to the total number of U.S. child detentions for the year 2015, according to the U.N. refugee agency."

Many outlets had run with The Associated Press's inaccurate report, including NBC News. Al Jazeera also issued an "update."

Some Democrats initially seized on the inaccurate reporting, including the DNC War Room and 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who have since deleted their tweets.

"This is a disgusting result of Trump's family separation policies- pushed by Stephen Miller who has cited white nationalist propaganda in promoting his views. It's also, apparently, a violation of a U.N. treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child," the DNC War Room initially wrote, unaware that it was slamming the Obama administration.

Sanders offered a multiple-choice question, "What country has the world's highest rate of child detention," which had Botswana, Sri Lanka, and Mexico as alternative options.

"Under Trump, America leads the world in locking up little kids- including 100,000 children at the border. This is immoral," Sanders wrote in the now-deleted tweet.

Donald Trump Jr. blasted the media, suggesting they were selective at what stories they retracted.

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"I guess they’ll only withdraw true stories that make Obama look bad rather than leaving up the truth for everyone to see? This is why no one trusts the media," Trump Jr. wrote.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.