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  • Fox ignores a report that the Trump administration is incarcerating babies in “tender age” shelters

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters 

    On June 19, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration has so far sent hundreds of immigrant babies and toddlers who were forcibly separated from their parents to “tender age” facilities in Texas. Many of these parents torn from their children are coming to the U.S. seeking asylum. According to the article, doctors and lawyers who have seen the shelters “described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.” Fox News has completely ignored the report.

    This reporting on the administration’s child prisons is just the latest in a series of horrendous stories that have emerged since the adoption of a “zero tolerance” policy for those who cross the border “illegally.” Under the new policy, at least 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since April 19. There have been reports of a breastfeeding baby who was ripped from her mother, a Honduran father separated from his family who took his own life, parents deported while their children remained in U.S. government custody, and children who are held in cages alongside strangers.

    Fox News has neglected to report on the administration’s latest inhumanity. A Media Matters review found that between the story’s publication around 10 p.m. on June 19 through the end of its flagship morning show Fox & Friends at 9 a.m. on June 20, the network completely failed to acknowledge the “tender age” shelters. Fox News’ apathy towards the story was in stark contrast to its treatment on rival station MSNBC, where host Rachel Maddow broke down while reporting on the shelters. CNN has also covered the story.

    This isn’t the first time that Fox has failed to cover heart wrenching reporting on the realities of the administration’s policy of forcible family separation. Just this week, the network ignored the publication of an audio recording of sobbing children who had been separated from their parents. Fox’s neglect of these stories is not remotely surprising given how many of the network’s hosts and contributors have defended the barbaric separation policy.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “tender age,” “baby,” and “babies” on Fox News between 10 p.m. on June 19 and 9:00 a.m. on June 20. All mentions relevant to the story were included.  

  • Right-wing media are rallying to defend the Trump administration’s inhumane separation of families at the border 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Trump administration is separating immigrant children from their parents or legal guardians after they cross the border, with at least 2,000 children taken from their parents since April 19. The administration’s merciless and inhumane policy has spurred numerous heartbreaking stories, including reports of a breastfeeding baby who was ripped from her mother, a Honduran father separated from his family who took his own life, and children who are held in cages alongside strangers. Yet right-wing media figures have been quick to defend the policy and dismiss its inherent cruelty:

    • Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak justified separating families at the border, saying the Border Patrol facilities are "better than what they had." Pollak also claimed that ICE taking children from their parents and putting them in detention facilities is “just about caring for the kids.”

    • Right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza, who recently received a pardon from President Donald Trump, questioned whether immigrant parents are “the ones choosing to separate their families.”

    • Fox's Pete Hegseth defended the separations because the children get food and "soccer and video games." Hegseth also called images of detained children “quite compassionate,” and said the policy was “defensible.”

    • Fox News’ Trish Regan argued that Trump is showing asylum-seeking families "tough love" by taking children away from their parents.

    • Fox contributor Tammy Bruce called for White House press briefings to end after reporters confronted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about the separation of families.

    • Fox's Jesse Watters argued that the White House should "start ripping press passes away" from reporters who ask about families getting separated at the border. Watters also said that “some would say” that separation is “a more humane policy” than detaining the families together.

    • In a series of tweets, Twitter troll Bill Mitchell aggressively defended the policy, accusing the media of focusing on “#FakeNews ‘concentration camps,’” complaining about the money spent to keep the children captive, suggested that many of the children are “not with their families at all - they are with smugglers” (only a very small percentage of cases involve smuggling and often a bona fide relationship between the child and adult is clear), and claiming, “President Trump is PROTECTING these children.”

    • Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade downplayed “the so-called separation of kids and parents” at the border, arguing that the Democrats are using it to distract from the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Singapore Summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

    • Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt said that families are “choosing to be separated” by showing up at the border. She also argued that “you can't even really blame an administration” for the separation policy.

    • Her fellow Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said that “the part that is troubling” is not children being ripped from their parents, but the parents choosing to come to the United States in the first place. Doocy also argued that the cages some children are being housed in shouldn’t be called “cages” because rather they are “walls [built] out of chain link fences," and he defended family separation by suggesting the U.S. government spends a lot of money to “make sure that those kids wind up with all that stuff” that detention facilities offer.

    • Fox & Friends repeated or referenced Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s lies about family separation throughout the June 18 broadcast. Nielsen initially claimed that separation wasn’t happening -- it is.

    • Right-wing troll Mike Cernovich said that Trump was “keeping [children] safe in dorms,” and he accused former President Barack Obama of giving children “to human traffickers.”

    • Fox host and Trump lackey Sean Hannity claimed that the policy of separation “took place in previous administrations” (neither the Obama nor the Bush administration separated families as a matter of policy). Hannity also accused the media of having an “obsession” with the “so-called policy of separating illegal immigrant families.”    

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham called the “outrage” over the separation policy “hilarious,” complained about watching “our country try to contort itself into other peoples' cultures,” and excused the separations because the children have “entertainment, sports, tutoring, medical, dental, four meals a day, and clean, decent housing” even though their “parents irresponsibly tried to bring them across the border illegally.” On her Fox show, Ingraham called the administration’s child detention centers “essentially summer camps” and compared them to “boarding schools.”

    • Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn choose not to editorialize on the cruelty of family separation itself, instead attacking the "discourse" around separation policy and claiming it is what's wrong with Democrats and media.

    • Right-wing columnist Ann Coulter warned the president not to fall for “these child actors weeping and crying on” cable news.

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh called the outrage over family separation “an entirely manufactured crisis” and claimed “it happened during the Obama administration” too (it didn’t).  

    • One America News Network correspondent and internet troll Jack Posobiec defended the policy by fearmongering that children crossing the border could be with traffickers as opposed to family members. There is clear evidence of the relationship between many of the children in detention and the adult that accompanied them.

    • American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, a frequent cable news guest, contended that “Obama and Trump have same child protection policy” (they do not).

    • Fox’s David Bossie attempted to shift the blame onto the parents, arguing that “if they don't become criminals, they're not separated.” He also claimed that Trump is just “following the law,” ignoring the reality that separation is a Trump administration policy, not the law.

    • Fox host Tucker Carlson warned his viewers that people speaking up against America detaining children in cages just want to "change your country forever."

    • Chris Bedford, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation, criticized the "hyperbole" over family separation and child detention.

    • Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge attempted to paint Latin American children as violent by publishing a photo of children in Azaz, Syria.

    • Turning Point USA spokesperson Candace Owens claimed that “these policies were in place” during the Obama administration (they were not).

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter aggressively defended the policy, suggesting that the U.S. ought to “separate the children and then send them all away” and “in prison (sic) the parents until they serve their sentence then throw them out.”

    • Infowars frontman and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed that separation has been the “standard procedure for decades” when you “pick up a group of a hundred people and you have no idea who the hell they are.” Infowars also claimed that Trump had exposed “the hoax that the US is mistreating migrant children.”

    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro fallaciously argued that Trump is simply “enforcing the law on the books.”

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk posted a series of tweets fearmongering about “illegal immigration” and claimed that “all of this happened for 8 years under Obama” (nope).

    • NRATV host Dan Bongino claimed that reporting on the “immigration/children story” is “propaganda, nothing more” and argued that anyone who believed it is “delirious, and should seek professional help.”

    • Radio talk show host Ben Ferguson shared an image on Facebook claiming that policies of separating children from “illegal parents” had been in effect since 2009 and that Democrats just started talking about the issue because “they only care about making Trump look ‘bad.’” The post has been shared over 100,000 times.

    • Conservative commentator Dick Morris claimed that families seeking asylum at the borders were part of a “scam” in which adult immigrants were “abusers” who are using their children as a “battering ram to force their way into the country.” He also said the solution to this problem is to deny asylum to all immigrants who come to the border with a child.

    • Fox New contributor and Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich posted a series of tweets comparing the separation of asylum-seeking families to the separation of children and arrested parents and supporting Sarah Sanders’ claims in which she portrayed “illegal aliens” as criminals who are responsible for separating U.S. families permanently by “committing murder or killing through drunk driving.”

    • Conservative Review TV’s Jon Miller claimed that media are trying to push controversy around separation policies in order to “distract from the disastrous IG report and anything else this president has done that will cause people to vote for him.”

    • Fox News’ Tomi Lahren tweeted that “we owe ILLEGAL immigrants NOTHING,” and suggested that family separation is just one of the “consequences” parents have to accept when they “drag [their] kids over here ILLEGALLY.”

  • Fox News virtually ignores audio of crying immigrant children separated from their parents by the Trump administration

    CNN and MSNBC have both repeatedly played the recording. Fox News has repeatedly glossed over and lied about the administration’s policy.

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News is keeping its audience in the dark regarding recently released audio of immigrant children in American detention facilities crying for their parents. As Fox hosts continue to gloss over and lie about the Trump administration’s policy decision to separate families at the border, in contrast, MSNBC and CNN have all played the heart-wrenching audio almost every hour since ProPublica released it to the public.

    On June 18, investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica published an audio recording of the “desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children [who had been] separated from their parents” by U.S. authorities:

    According to a Media Matters review, since ProPublica’s publication of the audio at 3:51 p.m., Fox News has all but ignored it, airing only a total of five seconds of the audio during the 11 p.m. hour on June 18. Later in the hour, host Shannon Bream highlighted apparent “criticism” of New York magazine White House correspondent Olivia Nuzzi for playing the audio during the June 18 White House press briefing. Hours earlier on The Five, co-host Dana Perino acknowledged the audio and admitted it would “pull at heartstrings,” but never actually played the recording for viewers.

    According to a Media Matters review, MSNBC has played the recording at least once during every hour since its 4 p.m. hour yesterday. CNN has played the recording at least once every hour since its 5 p.m. hour.

    Rather than informing its viewers about the real human effects of the Trump administration’s policy decision, Fox News hosts are attempting to put a positive spin on the practice of separating children from their parents, lying through their teeth about what’s happening, and mocking people who are outraged by a policy that the United Nations human rights office has deemed “arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life” and “a serious violation of the rights of the child.” And, like with almost every other damning report regarding the Trump administration, Fox News has chosen to bury its head in the sand when it comes to audio evidence of what’s happening on the border. The combination leaves the network’s viewers in the dark about a reprehensible policy that a previous Homeland Security secretary referred to as not just “ineffective” but “immoral and un-American.”

  • On Fox, ICE director defends tearing asylum-seeking families apart using a misleading statistic on human smuggling

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    The acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Thomas Homan, appeared on Fox News June 19 to defend the Trump administration’s policy of separating the children and parents of asylum-seeking families at the border, pushing the misleading talking point that “there's a 300 percent increase on people claiming family units that aren't family units.” According to a Washington Post reporter, while it is true the number of adults arriving at the border with children not their own has increased by about 315 percent, these cases make up only .61 percent of the total number of family units apprehended at the border.

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also used the misleading statistic at a White House press briefing, arguing that immigrant children arriving at the southern border are being used as “pawns by the smugglers and the traffickers.”

    But The Washington Post’s Philip Bump obtained the full data behind the statistic and found that the claim overstates the problem of human smuggling at the border. “In other words,” Bump wrote, “for every 1,000 families that approached the border in the first five months of this fiscal year, only six allegedly involved individuals pretending to be a child’s parents.”

    From the June 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    BILL HEMMER (CO-HOST): Did you see [Sen.] Ted Cruz [(R-TX)]'s idea? He's got a proposal floating out there. More immigration judges, maybe more beds, et cetera. That would help process the system faster. And then you only separate families in the event that there is, I think, aggravated criminal activity or potential harm. I believe that's the way it's phrased. What do you think of Senator Cruz's idea, sir?

    THOMAS HOMAN (ACTING ICE DIRECTOR): I haven't seen his bill, but you know what, we got to talk about that because we've seen over a 300 percent increase on people claiming to be parents of children, and they're not. These children are being used by the criminal organizations as pawns and being rented to claim as family units so they don't get detained. So -- I haven't seen that legislation. We need to make sure, number one, we protect these children being used by these criminal organizations as bait. There's a 300 percent increase on people claiming family units that aren't family units.

    Homan has a history of retreating to Fox to defend his agency’s ruthless, anti-immigrant practices. In March, one ICE spokesperson quit after Homan mandated ICE field offices lie about the number of undocumented immigrants able to evade arrest after being warned of an upcoming ICE raid by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The number of failed arrests was vastly overstated, but Fox News repeatedly broadcast the erroneous figure before it was proved untrue, and Media Matters did not find any instance in which the network corrected the information.