The Washington Post was among many news organizations to denounce President Trump’s claim of tape being used to silence women during illegal border crossings — but a subsequent New York Times article revealed the president wasn’t making things up after all.
Back on Jan. 25, the Post published an update to a piece headlined, “Trump again mentioned taped-up women at the border. Experts don’t know what he is talking about.” It claimed the president’s "new favorite anecdote" was about tape covering the mouths of migrant women.
Post reporter Katie Mettler wrote that Trump, in pushing for a border wall, was claiming “without evidence that traffickers tie up and silence women with tape” before illegally crossing the border. The Post called Trump’s claims “salacious and graphic,” even providing a timeline of Trump’s taped-women rhetoric.
“Yet human-trafficking experts and advocates for immigrant women have said they are perplexed by this increasingly repeated story in Trump’s repertoire — and are at a loss for where he got his information. It was not from them, they say; in fact, they have no idea what he is talking about,” Mettler wrote.
Not so fast. Last week, The New York Times published a piece headlined, “Yes, there was duct tape: The harrowing journeys of migrants across the border.” The piece – part of a limited-run series on border crossing – reveals that tape is used during border crossings.
The Times report said that women are “tied up” and “bound,” featuring first-hand accounts from several women who experienced the brutality themselves.
“For weeks, President Trump has been criticized for exaggerating the brutality experienced by migrant women on the border as he makes his case for a wall,” the Times wrote. “But there is some truth to the president’s descriptions of the threat of sexual assault and of women who have been duct-taped and bound.”
Trump often refers to the Times as “failing,” and the paper made sure to note that Trump may have been “exaggerating” before backing up his core claim.
“Undocumented women have been duct-taped and tied up before, during and after their migration to the United States, The Times discovered while reporting a story that will soon be published. Maybe not frequently, but it has happened,” the Times wrote.
But it was only a month prior that the Post brought in experts who claimed that Trump’s comments were “completely divorced from reality.”
“It’s clear that he just doesn’t have an understanding of what happens at the border,” an executive from an immigration legal services and advocacy nonprofit told the paper.
The Post attempted to debunk Trump’s claim while slipping in the disclaimer that experts “did not rule out the possibility that there are female trafficking victims near the border who have been bound or gagged.”
The Washington Post did not answer directly when asked if a correction or editor’s note would be added to its piece that declared experts are unaware of tape being used during border crossings. A spokeswoman, however, noted that the Times story reported that trafficking experts told the media they had not heard of such incidents, "as reflected in The Post’s Jan. 25 story headline."
The Post is hardly the only news organization that didn’t find the use of duct tape to be realistic.
Trump’s critics speculated that the president might be simply making things up or even stealing plotlines from the film “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” The Toronto Star has also tried to debunk the duct-tape claims, once noting that “six trafficking experts” hadn’t heard what the president described.
The Times also detailed rape, torture and kidnapping of women during the migration process.