The Trump administration is detaining migrants in horrid conditions. Fox News is trying to dismiss concerns by attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Trump administration is detaining migrants in horrid conditions. Fox News is trying to dismiss concerns by attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE & REBECCA MARTIN

After visiting border detention centers in El Paso and Clint, TX, last week, a few members of Congress gave similar scathing accounts about the conditions faced by migrants being detained in those facilities. Their observations aligned with separate reporting from major media outlets and the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General about the conditions at the border facilities. But Fox News selectively focused on freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacked her for her comments.


Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

After visiting border detention centers in El Paso and Clint, TX, last week, a few members of Congress gave similar scathing accounts about the conditions faced by migrants being detained in those facilities. Their observations aligned with separate reporting from major media outlets and the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General about the conditions at the border facilities. But Fox News selectively focused on freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacked her for her comments.

Following their visit to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, members of Congress detailed what they had seen: in addition to mentioning other atrocities migrants are facing, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that there was no running water in the cells and CBP agents had told the migrant women to drink out of toilets. Her claim was corroborated by other members of Congress Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, Chu, and Dean, other Congress members shared similarly horrifying accounts of what they saw: Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) explained how “the entire system is broken, rotten and rife with abuse” and described CBP facilities as “wholly inadequate.” Dean described the conditions as “far worse than we ever could have imagined,” saying, “This is a human rights crisis.” Dean gave an interview to The Atlantic detailing the “inhumanity” at the facilities. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) said she was “horrified” by what she saw in El Paso and Clint.

Additionally, a new government report was released earlier this month that detailed “dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley,” with one detention facility official describing the situation as a “ticking time bomb.” And last week, The New York Times published a disturbingly detailed account of current border conditions:

Outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox were spreading among the hundreds of children who were being held in cramped cells, agents said. The stench of the children’s dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents’ own clothing — people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly. One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of them, so they could watch her as they were processing new arrivals.

Instead of honestly reporting on the horrible conditions migrants are facing at the border and in detention facilities, Fox News launched an all-out attack on Ocasio-Cortez, singling out her comment about migrant women being told to drink out of the toilet and accusing her of lying. It is unsurprising that Fox News is trying to shift the narrative with such attacks: the network is obsessed with caricaturing Ocasio-Cortez as a boogeyman in almost any context.

On The Ingraham Angle, guest host Jesse Watters said that “a lot of people are doubting -- for good reason -- what she said because she's offered no proof” despite corroborating accounts from other members of Congress. National Border Patrol Council Vice President Hector Garza accused Ocasio-Cortez of “grandstanding.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/1/19]

On America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Tom Homan accused Ocasio-Cortez of “clearly intentionally misinforming the American public.” He said Ocasio-Cortez “lost all credibility,” adding, “People are learning every time she opens her mouth, she is wrong.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/2/19]

Fox’s Outnumbered Overtime hosted National Border Patrol Council’s Art Del Cueto, who claimed Ocasio-Cortez was “looking for issues” and “lying.” [Fox News, Outnumbered Overtime, 7/2/19]

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto asked former acting ICE Director Ron Vitiello, “Where do you think the congresswoman got the notion that they were drinking toilet water?” Vitiello replied, “I don’t believe she spent enough time to understand what’s really going on” in these border facilities. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 7/2/19]

On Special Report, Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s claims and said that such “Democratic rhetoric” is “divorced from reality” and that such “heated rhetoric is being used to escape the reality that this will continue as long as these asylum loopholes exist.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 7/2/19]

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed “the Hispanic [congressional] caucus is an activist caucus.” He asked: “Who is telling the truth? The agents or the Hispanic caucus member Ocasio-Cortez.” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said Ocasio-Cortez “flat-out lied.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobb Tonight, 7/2/19]

Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said that CBP claimed Ocasio-Cortez’s comments are “not true,” asking, “Who is telling the truth?” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7/2/19]

Discussing Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on his prime-time Fox show, host Tucker Carlson asked, “Is any of it true? Doesn’t sound like it.” He added that “the Border Patrol completely denies everything she said” and commented, “That woman can’t stop talking.” He also called her the “loudest, most aggressive person in a party as weak as the Democratic Party.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/2/19]

Fox contributor Dan Bongino claimed Ocasio-Cortez’s comments are “absolutely categorical nonsense” and “false” and accused her of “making it up.” Fox News contributor Sara Carter insisted that Ocasio-Cortez is “misreporting” and “misrepresenting what she saw.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/2/19]

Fox News contributor Gregg Jarrett, guest hosting for Sean Hannity, claimed Ocasio-Cortez’s claims regarding migrants being forced to drink out of toilets was “pretty quickly and easily debunked.” Fox contributor Lawrence Jones agreed, saying, “It was easy to debunk.” Jarett also aired a clip of right-wing commentator Rush Limbaugh berating Ocasio-Cortez for going to the border to “whine and moan about conditions there.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/3/19]

America’s Newsroom aired a clip of Limbaugh accusing Ocasio-Cortez of trying “to pull off a hoax, … making wild claims about illegals being told to drink toilet water.” Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich attacked Ocasio-Cortez, calling her “viciously dishonest” and saying that “it is truly despicable to watch people like this operate, and I think she should be shamed” over her comments. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/3/19]

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