Fox’s purported “straight news” division claimed on Wednesday that President Joe Biden was reversing course on his actions to stop construction of former President Donald Trump’s wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. “Biden resumes wall construction after promising to halt it,” the Fox headline originally ran.
First of all, the story was not true. The actual problem being addressed was that in the course of building Trump’s border wall, engineers had to dig out existing water control systems — which are now left exposed. Local officials have sounded the alarm on this complication, and so the federal government has set to restoring those levees before the seasonal floods begin again.
Furthermore, this whole development isn’t even genuinely new. The Department of Homeland Security agreed two weeks ago to help on repair work after local officials started a plan to begin work themselves regardless of any bureaucratic delays in the federal response. As such, while the work itself must still be completed, the resolution of this story is effectively old news.
Fox’s online article has since been changed to say that Biden had resumed “border wall levee construction,” with “priority repairs” in the Rio Grande Valley.
Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin had initially appeared on Wednesday’s edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, with “breaking news” confirmed by Fox that “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is actually going to be restarting border wall construction down in the Rio Grande Valley,” after “a lot of blowback and pressure from local residents and local politicians.”
Anchor Bret Baier concurred that this was “big news for the Biden administration.”
The only problem, though, was that the story was false.
Melugin replaced his original tweet overnight with an “UPDATE,” referring instead to a “border wall levee,” but still without the context that the levees had been disrupted by Trump’s previous border wall construction.
Melugin’s original tweet from Fox’s “straight news” side lives on, however: Prime-time host Sean Hannity repeated the original story in full spin on Wednesday night, minus any clarification about the levees — and he included a screengrab of Melugin’s tweet.
In between those two shows, the topic also came up on Fox News Primetime, when rotating host Brian Kilmeade also touted the story. “The construction on the border wall will resume on 13 miles in the Rio Grande Valley,” Kilmeade said briefly. “It's called a levee wall, but just the fact that they're doing this is a major political win for President Trump and everyone that served with President Trump because they said the walls didn't work and we know they're due.”
Kilmeade then brought on former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller, who played a key role in advocating for the worst abuses of Trump-era immigration policies and is now a go-to expert for Fox News on immigration debates.
“They're going to restart building the wall again, Stephen,” Kilmeade falsely claimed. “What do you think that says?”
Miller responded: “I think that in that case they probably just had overwhelming pressure from the border agents on the ground.”
Fox News anchor Shannon Bream also reported overnight that “construction has resumed on more than 13 miles of levee wall on the southern border in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, following mounting pressure from local residents and lawmakers,” but without explaining any of the key context of the story.
And in the morning, the Fox & Friends panel explained that the Biden administration was simply rebuilding water control systems that had been torn up during border wall construction. But like some kids who just got new clothes for Christmas when what they really wanted was a pony, the co-hosts made sure to get in their disappointed comments.
“Rather than stopping the flood of people, they're going to work on the levy to stop the flood of water,” Steve Doocy said.
“You know what would have solved this problem? Not pausing the border wall construction in the first place,” Will Cain added. “The entire project would have been taken care of.”