Washington Post report on passport crackdown had glaring factual problems, HuffPost finds

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The Washington Post’s damning report claiming the Trump administration ramped up efforts to deny passports to some Hispanic people who are U.S. citizens had glaring factual errors, forcing editors to revise the story substantially multiples times, according to a HuffPost report Monday.

“The (Washington) Post withheld key data, mischaracterized information and lobbed an allegation of fraud at a deceased doctor without speaking to his family members, who complained publicly,” HuffPost wrote. “The piece has been substantially altered three times, including Thursday after multiple queries from HuffPost.”

HuffPost reported The Washington Post “cited a number of specific policies to support its allegation of a crackdown” — but “all three practices predate Trump.”

The practices are “supposedly heightened scrutiny of birth certificates signed by midwives suspected of peddling fraudulent documents, supposedly unprecedented passport denials to people born far from the border, and a supposedly new focus on babies delivered by one Texas doctor,” HuffPost wrote.

The website added that The Washington Post’s initial article “lacked statistics, which the State Department initially failed to provide.”

HuffPost published data from the State Department that contradicted the newspaper: “The Post acknowledges receiving the same data two days after publishing the story. But the paper didn’t disclose the new numbers.”

The new report added: “The Post updated the article to note that a smaller percentage of passport applications were denied under Trump ― withholding the numbers showing that the number of people whose applications came under scrutiny at all also declined.”

In a statement to Fox News in August, a State Department spokeswoman blasted The Washington Post over the original story, saying passport denials in these cases actually are at a six-year low after peaking in 2015 during the Obama administration.

“The facts don’t back up the Washington Post’s reporting. This is an irresponsible attempt to create division and stoke fear among American citizens while attempting to inflame tensions over immigration,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “Under the Trump Administration, domestic passport denials for so called ‘midwife cases’ are at a 6-year low. The reporting is a political cheap shot.”

When reached for comment Monday night, The Washington Post emailed Fox News the editor’s note included at the top of the story:

“After this story was published on Aug. 29, the State Department issued a statement challenging the accuracy of the article and provided previously unreleased data on passport denials. That information has been added, as was indicated in a Sept. 1 editor’s note. On Sept. 13, the story was updated to include comments from the daughter of Jorge Treviño, who had contacted The Post immediately after the story was published. Additional changes have been made to clarify that an affidavit about Treviño was submitted as part of an Obama-era case and to correct a reference to his profession — he was a general practitioner, not a gynecologist. As was noted in an Aug. 31 correction, the State Department began denying passports during the George W. Bush administration, not the Obama administration.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.