On May 16, Fox’s Laura Ingraham hosted Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on The Ingraham Angle for a softball interview in which Nielsen falsely claimed that there has been a 73 percent increase in assaults on border patrol agents. Ingraham’s failure to push back on Nielsen’s lie is representative of Fox’s recent strategy of circulating DHS’ lies in order to help foster sympathy for federal immigration agents who are terrorizing immigrant families.
Last night on her show, Ingraham played a clip of a Senate hearing in which Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Nielsen about DHS’ new policy that would separate immigrant families at the border and then asked, “How do you as DHS secretary combat ... the emotional push on this?” Nielsen responded, “It is the law,” adding, “For every [immigrant] sob story, we have 73 percent border assault increase. We have people like Kate Steinle. Where is the compassion for the flip side of this conversation?”
Nielsen’s claim that there has been a 73 percent increase in “border assault,” presumably meaning assaults on Border Patrol agents, is false. According to The Intercept, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency within DHS, has “falsely and grossly inflat[ed] the data” on cases of assault at the southern border, “making it appear to the public that far more agents were assaulted.”
In the past, Ingraham and Fox News have done their part to hype DHS’ false narrative that agents are under attack and to promote the agency’s brand. Earlier this year, Ingraham and her Fox cohorts spent weeks distorting the facts of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez’s death to claim that he was the victim of a “vicious attack” at the southern border. But evidence indicated that Martinez’s death was an accident, and the FBI said it had “found no evidence of a homicide.” President Donald Trump repeated Fox’s botched reporting during a speech yesterday, calling Martinez’s death “horrific” and “violent.”
In March, a spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) San Francisco field office resigned in protest after being asked to repeat the agency’s lie that “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community” as a result of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to warn her community about ICE raids. The lie was repeated on Fox throughout February and March, but a correction was never issued.
And Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends, repeatedly hosted representatives of Border Patrol-related organizations to praise the hosts for covering the asylum seekers fleeing violence in the “caravan” from Central America as “dangerous criminals” who were “going to come here and break the law.” The show has been criticized by others for this distorted and incendiary coverage.