For several weeks, the news media have been abandoning their roles as reporters with the duty to provide accurate information from a dispassionate perspective. It is clear many are suffering from “separation anxiety” as they fail to “report” on the Trump administration’s immigration policies in the wake of a rapidly-rising flow of illegal immigrants across the U.S. border.
The story has now risen to such a level that all three news networks dispatched their anchors to Texas so they could tour detention centers and interview women and children trying to enter the U.S. Rather than act as mediators, many have been performing as agitators.
During a Monday interview Manuel Padilla, chief of the Rio Grande Valley Sector of Customs and Border Protection (CPB), tried to explain to with CBS’s Morning News anchor Gayle King the complicated history of protecting the border.
He described the influence of smugglers and how CPB began to implement a policy to detain family units in 2014. But King clearly did not want to hear how events today resembled those taking place during the Obama administration.
“Let me stop you there because I don’t want to go back to 2014,” she informed Padilla.
Today, King chose to interview an American citizen who legally emigrated from Mexico about the situation on the border.
The man told King that “we can’t just open up the borders” because often “we lose our jobs because a lot of these people coming in, they are willing to do the job for a portion of the pay. And so we’re left out.”
His argument did not persuade the anchor, who clapped back at the man, saying “This is bigger, though, than opening up the borders. This is about children being separated from their parents.”
Like many of her colleagues in the media, covering the surge of immigrants and asylum seekers is now a political cause.
According to the Media Research Center, the three television news broadcasts spent 94 minutes on Monday morning criticizing the Trump administration’s policies and over the last week, they have aired “almost three hours (176 minutes) of emotional segments that included pictures of crying children and accompanying anger from correspondents and pundits alike.”
By comparison, the major broadcast networks dedicated a mere 6 minutes and 29 seconds to child detention policies during the Obama years. Given the overwrought and over-the-top coverage of the border crisis today compared with reporting during the Obama administration, it is easy to see why King and her press colleagues want to ignore news coverage from the past.
All of the emotion-driven stories leave few moments to spare for other issues, such as any discussion of the Flores agreement, which governs the treatment and detention of minors in immigration custody.
Under the terms of the agreement, which the Obama administration accepted, the federal government is left with a Hobson’s choice: either release the entire family within weeks of their detention, or detain the parents for an even longer period of time while their cases are adjudicated.
Policy analysis was for another time and another administration.
Three years ago, ABC News’ Jim Avila filed a story on the surge of unaccompanied children and mothers with young children coming across the Mexican border and overwhelming detention centers in the U.S. Avila did not blame the administration, not hurl accusations that the practice of leaving mothers in bus depots without money or provisions was inhumane.
Instead, Avila correctly noted that groups were trying to “exploit legal loopholes in American border security” and described it as “a humanitarian crisis actually caused by U.S. law.”
Those would be the same loopholes that exist in the law today and are further exacerbating an already dysfunctional immigration system.