On Saturday night in Florida, Donald Trump held a rally and made some puzzling statements about immigration in Europe in an effort to defend his now-blocked travel ban. More specifically, Trump referenced what happened in Sweden the night prior. He never specified during the rally what exactly he believes occurred, but he certainly made it sound pretty bad. Naturally, this prompted many Americans to search for answers, and as it turns out, nothing really "happened" in Sweden that night.
Trump expressed that the purpose of the rally, was to "be among my [Trump's] friends and among the people" and to speak to the nation in a straightforward manner, without having to use news outlets as a medium.
I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news. The dishonest media which has published one false story after another with no sources, even though they pretend they have them, they make them up in many cases, they just don't want to report the truth and they've been calling us wrong now for two years. They don't get it. By they're starting to get it. I can tell you that.
But there's a problem with this statement: Trump and his administration tout false stories without citing sources. The "Sweden incident" is just one example. He continued to explain why he believes the travel ban, if the 9th Circuit Court had not blocked it, would have kept Americans safer.
We've got to keep our country safe. You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what's happening in Brussels. You look at what's happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.
You can read the entire transcript of his Florida rally speech here. After his Sweden remarks came under fire for being both vague and inarguably false, Trump posted an explanation on Twitter.
White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump wasn't referencing one single occurrence. Instead, she said on Sunday, that he was referring to general incidents of violence in Sweden. Still, Trump's tweet doesn't answer many questions. What was the Fox News story "concerning immigrants and Sweden"? Was it reliable enough to broadcast to the entire nation from a podium?
On Friday evening, Fox News' Tucker Carlson interviewed filmmaker Ami Horowitz, who is making a documentary that attempts to connect the influx of refugees with higher incidents of violence in Sweden. During his interview with Carlson, Horowitz correlated the two occurrences without presenting any data that could remotely justify causation. Doing little to support his suspicion, he added that it's "confounding" that "the majority of the population in Sweden still wants to have an open door policy." He went on to allege that the government of Sweden is trying to "cover up" the supposed role of migrants in these crimes.
Deputy director of the Swedish Institute, Henrik Selin, told The New York Times that negative reporting on Sweden's refugee policy is oftentimes not based in facts.
"Swedish authorities have nothing to gain from hiding the truth," he claimed. "We are quite keen to ensure that the debate and the story about our country is fact-based and nuanced."
Needless to, relying on Horowitz' subjectivity as fact is not a promising strategy — especially coming from the President of the United States.