TV News Divided on Whether to Misrepresent or Ignore Latest Border Enforcement Move

February 17th, 2020 5:22 PM

When the Trump administration deployed elite Customs and Border Patrol forces to round up violent offenders in ten sanctuary cities, CNN and the big three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) largely ignored the topic. The only network to devote more than two news briefs to the story over the weekend was MSNBC, which somehow managed to report fewer details in over 16 minutes of coverage than other networks covered in a single report.

From February 14 through February 16, the deployment was mentioned just 14 times during all five of the above networks’ regular programming. CBS spared only 42 seconds to discuss it; NBC found 51 seconds, and CNN spent four minutes on it. Although ABC gave the subject only 26 seconds, they were the only network all weekend to report that these agents would be specifically targeting illegal aliens with extensive criminal records (see the video below).



MSNBC provided the bulk of the coverage, with more than 16 minutes to the issue (73%). But Considering ABC managed to reveal in 26 seconds what MSNBC could not in 38 times that, the attention they paid to this story appears to represent a greater willingness to spin the story in a negative (and dishonest) light. While reports from CBS, CNN, and NBC were light on the details, only MSNBC outright acted as though the administration was militarizing CBP against peaceful “immigrant families” and “communities.”



During the 7:00 p.m. ET Saturday edition of MSNBC Live, host Richard Lui worried that the crackdown might “potentially affect the Latino voters showing up.” His guest, “Democracy-Ish” podcast host Danielle Moody-Mills agreed: “It’s all about [voter] suppression, right?”

If it’s any consolation to Lui, voter turnout cannot be affected by the deportation of noncitizens with extensive arrest records. That is, unless Lui believes that illegal aliens of Latin-American extraction have been voting unlawfully in U.S. elections.

On Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. ET MSNBC Live host Ali Velshi interviewed Caitlin Dickerson, an immigration reporter for The New York Times. Dickerson claimed some unspecified number of sheriffs had confided in her that “when they help ICE do its job, it makes everybody less safe.”

Seizing on her assertion, Velshi added: “So being a sanctuary city doesn’t mean that you’re against immigration law.” Perhaps Velshi was right, and the handful of mayors and governors who stubbornly refuse to enforce immigration laws don’t actually oppose those laws — but there’s little evidence to suggest that’s the case, and Velshi presented none.

It’s hard to convince an audience that deporting non-citizens with violent offense convictions makes America worse off. Instead, the TV news media touched briefly on this story over the weekend and quickly moved on — with the exception of MSNBC, who opted instead to misrepresent the topic.