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Fox News is falsely claiming that Biden apologized to Laken Riley's alleged murderer

Fox News is spinning President Joe Biden’s response after he “expressed regret” for using the term “illegal” during his State of the Union address. Figures on the network are claiming he chose to “bend over backwards to apologize to a migrant murder suspect" as part of a larger effort to “push … an open border.”

  • After initially describing Laken Riley’s alleged killer as an “illegal,” Biden “expressed regret” for using the term, which immigration groups have argued is inaccurate and “racially charged”

    • On Saturday, Biden “expressed regret … for using the word ‘illegal’ to describe an undocumented immigrant who has been charged in the killing of a 22-year-old nursing student in Georgia, agreeing with his progressive critics that it was an inappropriate term.” The president used the term in an “unscripted colloquy with Republicans” on the killing of Laken Riley during his State of the Union address. He later explained during an interview the following weekend that he “shouldn’t have used ‘illegal’; it’s ‘undocumented’ … I’m not going to treat any, any, any of these people with disrespect.” [The New York Times, 3/9/24
    • Later that day, former President Donald Trump claimed at a Georgia rally that “Biden should be apologizing for apologizing to this killer.” The former president embellished this attack with inflammatory language, claiming, “I will stop the killing, I will stop the bloodshed, I will end the agony of our people, the plunder of our cities, the sacking of our towns.” [Axios, 3/10/24]
    • Blowback to Biden’s language came largely from congressional Democrats and immigration advocacy groups. As The Guardian reported, “Immigration advocates have long argued that the term ‘illegals’ is an inaccurate term, as entering the US without documents is not a criminal offense. It is also a racially charged term that can promote violence and discrimination, according to the Drop the I-Word campaign, which advocates for media organizations not to use it when describing immigrants.” [The Guardian, 3/8/24]
  • Fox News reacted by claiming Biden “apologized to the alleged murderer,” suggesting the president wants to “push … an open border”

    • Fox News host Will Cain claimed Biden “apologized to the alleged murderer for calling him ‘illegal.’” “The murdered is the victim here, not the murderer,” Cain continued, “And if that needs clarification, we have come to a point where there is no longer an ability for discussion. You are upside-down morally.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 3/10/24]
    • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that voters would be “exasperated” by Biden’s statement, echoing Trump’s immigration rhetoric and calling the suspect “vermin” and “poison.” Co-host Lawrence Jones added, “We’re dealing with a political party that balances things based on hurt feelings versus people that are dead.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/11/24]
    • Fox co-host Dana Perino: Biden “does bend over backwards to apologize to a migrant murder suspect for calling him an illegal.” Covering Trump’s rally in Georgia, correspondent Peter Doocy added that the former president “really let it rip about President Biden’s apparent deference” to the suspect. An on-screen chyron during this segment stated, “Biden apologizes to Laken Riley murder suspect.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/11/24
    • Fox anchor Harris Faulkner said that Biden “essentially apologized to Laken Riley's suspected killer, apologized to the suspect for calling him an illegal.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 3/11/24]
    • Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace characterized Biden as “seemingly apologizing to Laken Riley's accused killer instead of to the slain student's family.” The piece largely focused on Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) reaction on X (formerly Twitter), where the Speaker commented that President Biden “should be apologizing to Laken’s family. What an embarrassment.” [Fox News, 3/10/24]
    • Fox co-host Kayleigh McEnany cited “growing outrage over President Biden’s apology to the accused killer of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley.” Co-host Emily Compagno continued, asking, “Why is the leftist movement all about those apologies? Why are they all about us having to apologize for a factual status rather than even acknowledging the tragic and brutal loss of life of a young American girl … They will never be satiated.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/11/24]
    • Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt attacked Biden, claiming he “apologized to [Riley’s] murderer for calling him an illegal.” “Well, guess what? He is an illegal,” Leavitt continued, “and Joe Biden’s policies allowed him into the country. Joe Biden's policies allowed him to be released back into our American communities once again, and then he was able to take Laken Riley's life.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 3/11/24]
    • Fox host Jesse Watters: “He didn’t apologize to Laken’s family for letting the killer into the country or for getting her name wrong. He apologized to her killer for getting his name right. An illegal immigrant.” Watters also claimed that “Biden doesn’t like saying ‘illegal’ because it makes him complicit in the crime since he invited them here and released them and protects them from deportation.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 3/11/24
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham claimed Biden’s statement was evidence that he believes “Americans killed or otherwise brutalized by illegal aliens are just now collateral damage.” An on-screen graphic displayed during the segment read, “Apology to a Killer.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/11/24]
    • On Hannity, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller ranted that Biden “complimented,” “praised,” and “groveled to the man who was charged with slaying this girl.” Miller also claimed the alleged killer had been “permitted to enter this country … on a ticket, an entry ticket from Joe Biden.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/11/24